Lawmakers Want To End SSI Marriage Penalty For People With Developmental Disabilities

The proposed legislation would update rules so that people with developmental disabilities would not be forced to give up certain government benefits if they get married. (Dreamz Wedding/Unsplash)

Under a bipartisan proposal in Congress, people with developmental disabilities would no longer sacrifice a key government benefit if they decide to get married.

Currently, couples receiving Supplemental Security Income see their benefits reduced by 25% if they marry.

However, a bill introduced this month in the U.S. House of Representatives would eliminate that penalty for SSI recipients with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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“People with intellectual disabilities should not be punished for getting married, but unfortunately that is exactly what is happening with the reduction of their SSI benefits,” said Rep. David G. Valadao, R-Calif., who introduced the legislation along with Rep. Susie. Lee, Democrat of Nevada. “I introduced the SSI Marriage Penalty Elimination Act to ensure that married adults with intellectual disabilities have the resources they need to meet their basic needs and live independent lives.”

For 2024, the maximum federal SSI payment for an individual is $943 per month, but married couples who qualify for the program receive only $1,415.

The legislation would require that the income and resources of a person’s spouse and marital status not be taken into account when determining eligibility for SSI for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

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