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Does SSD Take Into Account My Spouse’s Income in Determining How Much My Benefits Are?

senior couple sitting together at home by the window

A common question to our experienced Virginia Social Security Disability attorneys from those who may be applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is whether or not the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks at the individual applicant as an individual or instead as a part of a couple or a family unit when determining how much someone’s SSD benefits are going to be. For example, a single person who is supporting several dependents who becomes disabled and applies for SSD benefits may be in very different financial circumstances than someone who was the second earner in a two income household with no children or dependents. Unlike some other government benefit programs that may be means-tested, i.e. they may either exclude those who make a certain amount in income or reduce the amount that those with higher earnings records are eligible to receive, the calculation of your SSD benefit amount is an individualized determination that is based upon your average lifetime earnings records as an individual, regardless of your marital or family circumstances.

The Calculation of Your SSD Benefit Amount

Even though your income tax returns may be filed jointly, the amount of your SSD benefits is based completely on your own individual income as reflected in your individual earnings record. Each individual has an individual SSA earnings record that reflects what that person has earned over his or her years of employment. This is based off the amount of income that the individual paid Social Security taxes on during each working year of his or her career. If the person becomes disabled, then the amount that person receives in SSD benefits will be an individual determination based solely upon that individual's SSA earnings records, not the earnings record of the couple or the family of which that individual was a part or what was reflected on a joint tax return. Therefore, if you are primarily a homemaker and have been working part-time for years, your SSD benefit amount is likely to be quite low. On the other hand, a corporate executive is likely to qualify for a higher amount of monthly SSD benefits given that he or she likely had a higher average lifetime earnings record than the homemaker who worked part-time. Your joint income in the event that you are married and apply for SSD benefits thus has no bearing whatsoever on how much you can expect to receive if you are approved for SSD benefits. Instead, that amount is determined based solely on the amount that you as an individual earned and paid Social Security taxes on throughout your working life prior to becoming disabled.

How Much Can You Really Expect?

According to SSA data, most SSD recipients receive between $800 and $1,800 in SSD monthly benefits. According to SSA data, the average amount received by disabled workers in 2020 is $1,258. Finally, the maximum benefit amount for 2020 is $3,011, which is the absolute maximum amount of benefits that you can receive based on your lifetime earnings record.

Talk to The Experienced Social Security Disability Attorneys at Kalfus & Nachman

If you live in the Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach or Roanoke, Virginia, areas and need assistance determining if you qualify for the SSD benefits, what your expected monthly benefit would be, filing your SSD application, or filing an appeal, please contact Kalfus & Nachman PC by phone at (855) 880-8163 or through the form on this page to schedule a free consultation.