SSR 76-28: SECTIONS 1611(b)(2), 1612(a), and 1614(b) (42 U.S.C. 1382(b)(2), 1382a(a), and 1382c(b)) -- SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME -- AMOUNT OF BENEFITS -- RELATIONSHIP
20 CFR 416.412, 416.432, 416.1001, and 416.1101
- The claimant and her husband were receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as an eligible couple. Their only other source of income was his social security benefits. After they separated, they continued to receive SSI benefits at the rate applicable to eligible couples. The amount each received was computed by reducing the payment provided eligible couples because of the husband's social security benefit and dividing this reduced payment in two. One half was sent to claimant and one half to her eligible spouse. The claimant contended her benefit should be that applicable to eligible individuals and that the social security benefits paid to her estranged husband should not reduce her SSI grant. Held, the status of the claimant and her spouse as an eligible couple continues until they have been separated for 6 months and the social security benefits are income to the eligible couple which reduces the amount received by each.
The general issue to be determines is the amount of Supplemental Security Income benefits payable to claimant. The specific issues are: (1) will the claimant and her husband be treated as a couple during the first 6 months of their separation; (2) will social security benefits of an eligible spouse, who is the husband of claimant, be considered as unearned income in computing the benefits payable to an eligible couple; and (3) should the Supplemental Security Income benefits payable to an eligible couple be divided equally between the claimant and her eligible spouse?
Claimant and her husband were converted from the State welfare rolls on January 1, 1974. At that time, there were an eligible couple. Claimant's husband received a title II social security benefit of $94.80 a month. In September 1974, claimant and her husband separated. The Social Security Administration has included in the computation of claimant's grant a part of this income of her eligible spouse.
Section 416.412 of Regulations No. 16 provides, in effect, that benefits under this part for an eligible couple shall be payable at the rate of $210 per month for the period ending June 30, 1974, and at the rate of $219 per month for the remainder of 1974 and any calendar year thereafter, reduced by the amount of income not excluded pursuant to Subpart K of Regulations No. 16, of such individual and spouse.
Section 416.1101 of Regulations No. 16, provides, in effect, that under title XVI of the Social Security Act, as amended, an individual's income includes all of his own income in cash or in kind, both earned or unearned, and includes all the income of his or her eligible spouse.
The social security benefit paid to the husband, after applying the appropriate exclusion, is used to determine the amount of SSI benefits paid to claimant and her eligible spouse. The social security payment of $94.80 is reduced by the $20 exclusion, § 416.1165, leaving countable income in the amount of $74.80 per month. The monthly SSI benefit for a couple is $219, and this amount is reduced by the countable income of $74.80. There remains a balance of a combined benefit amount totaling $144.20. One-half of this amount is $72.10, and is payable each month to claimant, § 416.501.
Section 416.1001 of Regulations No. 16 provides, in effect, that if a husband and a wife are both aged, blind, or disabled individuals living in the same household, or if such husband and wife have been separated for less than 6 months, and such husband and wife are eligible for payments under title XVI of the Act, such payments shall be made to them as a couple. The payment made for an eligible couple will be less than the sum of the separate amounts which they could receive if each was an eligible individual. The eligibility of an individual or a couple for a payment for a month will be based on their marital status on the first day of the month. Any subsequent change in marital status within a month will not affect the eligibility for, or the amount of, the payment for such month.
Section 416.432 of Regulations No. 16, subsection (d), provides, in effect, that when there is a dissolution of an eligible couple and each member of the couple becomes an eligible individual for one (1) or two (2) months of the quarter, a payment amount for each person shall be computed individually for such months.
The eligibility of an individual or a couple for payment for a month will be based on the marital status as of the first day of the month; any subsequent change in marital status within a month will not affect eligibility for or the amount of payment for such month, §416.1001. Claimant and her husband were an eligible couple on September 1, 1974. They separated during September 1974. On October 1, 1974, they were separated. As of April 1, 1975, claimant and her husband will have been separated for a period of 6 months and, as of April 1, 1975, claimant will be eligible to receive benefits as an individual. These benefits will be in the amount of $146 per month.
Claimant submitted a copy of her Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, which states that the marriage will be dissolved effective May 7, 1975. As the date of dissolution would be after April 1, 1975, when the 6 months separation has ended, it will not effect this decision.
It is the decision of the Hearing Examiner that the status of claimant and her spouse as an eligible couple continues until they have been separated for a period of 6 months. The Supplemental Security Income benefits payable to claimant and her eligible spouse are to be divided equally until they have been separated for a period of 6 months and that the unearned income of claimant's spouse is considered income of claimant in computing the amount of Supplemental Security Income benefits.