What Happens to Public Benefits Eligibility if Your Child with Special Needs Marries?

What Happens to Public Benefits Eligibility if Your Child with Special Needs Marries

Some adults with special needs eventually choose to marry. When this happens, you may be concerned about the impact of your adult child’s marriage on their ability to continue to receive public benefits. When your adult child with special needs relies on Social Security or other public benefits for financial support, marriage can significantly impact their financial situation.

Supplemental Security Income Benefits

Some adult children with special needs receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, which are Social Security benefits for disabled individuals with very low income and assets and sufficient work record to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits.  Sometimes, once an individual has built up enough of a work record, they will qualify for a combination of SSI and SSDI benefits based upon their own work history.

Marriage does not automatically impact an individual’s ability to receive SSI benefits. However, since eligibility for SSI benefits is based on certain income and asset levels, individuals who marry must still meet those requirements. As a result, depending on their new spouse’s income and assets, they may receive a lower amount of SSI or, in many cases, no longer be eligible for SSI altogether, depending on the amount of household income and assets.

Disabled Adult Child (Childhood Disability Benefit) Status

The SSA grants some adults with special needs “disabled adult child” (DAC) status, sometimes referred to as “childhood disability benefit (CDB) status. This status allows unmarried adult individuals who became disabled before the age of 22 to receive Social Security benefits based on a parent’s Social Security earnings record in certain circumstances. These individuals only qualify for DAC status if they meet SSA’s definition of disability for adults and have a deceased parent or one who receives Social Security retirement or disability benefits. Since the parents typically have a longer work history than the children, obtaining DAC status often allows the children to receive far greater disability benefits than they would if they received SSI or SSDI benefits on their own work records.

Suppose your adult child has DAC status and marries another individual with DAC status. In that case, they both can maintain their DAC status and continue receiving their respective Social Security benefits, even after they marry. However, if your adult child with DAC status marries someone who does not have DAC status, then your adult child will lose DAC status. In other words, your adult child can no longer draw Social Security benefits off a parent’s earnings record. While, the child may be able to draw SSI, depending on their new household income and assets, or SSDI benefits if they have a sufficient earnings record of their own the amount of SSI/SSDI benefit is likely to be a fraction of what they received under DAC status.

Medicaid Eligibility

Eligibility for Medicaid also is based on household income. Therefore, adding a spouse to an individual’s household may increase their combined household income to a level that makes the individual with special needs ineligible for Medicaid. Therefore, before marriage, Medicaid eligibility is also something to consider when combining households. In addition, you may want to explore healthcare alternatives available for your adult child so that your child continues to receive all necessary medical care without any delays or disruptions in treatment.

Allow Us to Assist You with Your Public Benefits Eligibility Needs

Rubin Law is the only Illinois law firm exclusively dedicated to providing compassionate legal services for children and adults with special needs. In addition, we offer unique legal and future planning techniques to meet your family’s individual needs. At our law firm, you can discuss all your needs and objectives with an experienced Illinois special needs trust lawyer.

Call us today at 866-TO-RUBIN or contact us online to learn more about the services we can offer you and your family.