Ask Terry Questions Social security horror story — We cant get Married!

Social security horror story — We cant get Married!

By Terry Savage on November 14, 2023 | Wild Card

Hello Terry,
I am on SSI. And I was once married to someone that also on SSI. We both in our 30s when we got married in 2014. Now we are divorced. Because once we got married they cut our to 700 to 500 a month. Yes we got food stamps . But we didn’t have enough to pay our rent . Our rent in Florida at the time it was 700 plus utilities. So we’re struggling at the time . And I am engaged to my long time boyfriend. And he is on SSDI. Which he paid into and served our country also. But we can’t legally get married . If the government will come after us . I saw your story on 60 mins . And wanted to tell you the other dark side of social security also. It like I have to choose love or money . Why do I have to do that . I want to live a normal life like everyone else . But I don’t want loose my benefits. I was born with a learning disability. And my partner has mental health issues. The marriage penalty law needs to go. It hurts not be able to marry someone you love with loosing your benefits .

Thank you,

PS:I have been telling people for years. And I feel like no willing to listen to me . Thank you .

Terry Says

I completely understand your situation. The tax code was written years ago by “old white guys” who didn’t understand anything but the benefits of traditional marriage — And for a long time the tax code reflected that. Changes were made in the tax code to reduce the “marriage penalty” — but Social Security is rife with those sexist positions. We write about them in our new book, Social Security Horror Stories.

But these are the rules in play right now. So, since there is a huge marriage penalty in Social Security for your situation, may I suggest that you each do a couple of things.

1. Get a healthcare power of attorney from your state of residence. You can search on Google and download the form for your state. Each fill it out, naming the other. Make a few copies and have each of them notarized. Give a copy to each of your physicians. That way, you’ll get the privilege of deciding on each other’s care in a hospital, despite not being marriee.
And, by the way, also download your state’s ‘living will’ document–stating your preference for end-of-life care. Do the same with that form.

2. You might want to each make a will — assuming you have some precious things you want to leave each other. This shouldn’t cost a lot — but will prevent fights in case either of you has a family member who might want to dispute the distribution of property after death. The will can simply state that you leave ALL of your financial assets and personal property to your significant other.

This won’t make up for not being married in the eyes of the law, but it will give you most of the social privileges of being married.



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