UPDATE June 1, 2004: Receiving Dependent Benefits After Marriage

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March 22, 2004 Further information: This is excellent, but not commonly known, information.

After reading through much of the Social Security Act and many of the online sources, I placed several calls to the Social Security office.

When you call the Social Security Administration toll free number 1-800-772-1213 , this is the reference they use to answer questions: The Social Security Handbook.

If you will follow these steps, you will see the documentation to which the worker on March 22, 2004 referred when explaining how two individuals who have disabilities may marry and still maintain "disabled worker's" benefits as a dependent (those which I had been calling "dependent" benefits.

1. Go to: http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook-toc.html

2. Select #3. Cash retirement and Auxiliary benefits: http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.03/handbook-toc03.html

3. Select #340 Termination of Child's benefits


4. On 340.1 C. select 1852


1852. How does the marriage of one beneficiary to another affect benefits?

The effect of one beneficiary's marriage to another is summarized in the following chart:

Effect of Marriage to Another Beneficiary

If you are the following type of beneficiary...Then marrying another Social Security beneficiary has the following effect...

Retired or disabled worker, widow(er), disabled widow(er), surviving divorced spouse or disabled surviving divorced spouse No effect on entitlement.

This documentation clearly shows that a two disabled workers receiving SSI may marry with NO EFFECT ON THEIR ENTITLEMENT. It is very likely that you will need to show this documentation to the worker you contact for written proof of the right to marry without losing benefits. It is NOT generally known by the persons I visited with via telephone, or through our Congressman's office.


The person I spoke with then went on to refer me to the following chart, but it doesn't seem to be relevant since 1852 clearly shows that both SSI recipients would be entitled to maintain benefits after marriage. Both individuals would need to be receiving Social Security benefits

The person with SSA then referred to the chart 1851


Referred to "Disabled child 18 or over" then go down on occurrences to marriage or remarriage then over to "disabled worker".

The person we are hoping to have qualified for child's benefits after marriage and who is currently receiving SSI is referred to as "disabled worker". Person they are marrying must be receiving SSI (or other Social Security Benefits) prior to marriage.

1851 refers to Chapters 3 and 4 (which were 340.1 C and Chapter 4 which refers back to 1852)



We still have questions regarding those benefits:

  1. What happens if one of the individual's parents retires or dies before the spouse's parent retires or dies?
  2. Could one receiving Social Security "disabled worker"(child's) benefits, put their spouse's SSI in jeopardy?

I don't know yet what happens if one of them begins to draw child's benefits when a parent retires or dies. I need to do research now to determine if the spouse drawing SSI is in danger of losing that benefit, if their disabled spouse draws, child's benefits. I know a disabled person/child cannot receive both SSI and child's death or retirement benefits at the same time, but don't know if the couple must wait to file for the better benefits (child's benefits) until both would qualify. Child's benefits may not be reinstated once they are lost.


On March 15, 2004 I spoke with a representative from the Social Security office. The official told me that when two persons marry, both who were disabled prior to age 22 years they have what is called a "protective marriage". He went on to explain that if they (the couple) are each receiving Supplemental Security Income when a parent dies, becomes disabled themselves or retires, the child/married adult, would still be entitled to benefits from the parent's Social Security. The couple could not receive both SSI and Social Security child's benefits, but would not lose the opportunity to receive whichever benefit was greatest.

ps On March 15, the representative referred to a marriage between two disabled persons currently receiving SS benefits as a "protective marriage", but the person March 22, who showed me actual documentation was not aware of that term. She thought it might just be a term the other representative used personally. Neither she nor I could find the term used in the handbook or the act itself.




The conclusion we reached:

If a person who has disabilities wishes to marry another person with disabilities their families should help them:

  1. First establish a continued need for support by:
  1. Establish a relationship with an attorney who works extensively with SSI benefits, special needs trusts, etc. Request that they request specific documentation prior to marriage regarding their rights to maintain "disabled worker" status as a married couple.
  2. Write for specific documentation about the two individuals wishing to marry. (Both need to already be receiving SSI) Do not marry until the agency has stated clearly in written form that they will maintain dependent benefits as disabled workers (the reason they are entitled to the SSI benefits). Our attorney advised us that if an agency has provided written information regarding a law or policy it is VERY helpful in a court setting. Which in this case might be to proof their rights to maintain benefits.


I am NOT an attorney, only passing along information we have discovered.

Martha Kate Downey



505 Anthony Dr.

Euless, TX 76039