President Joe Biden signed Tuesday’s Respect for Marriage Act. codifying rights for same-sex and interracial marriages into law. However, the historic legislation did not include certain groups such as disabled persons, who still fight for equality in marriage.
Members of the disability community and activists are emphasizing that a person with a disability cannot marry someone else without risking losing their federal benefits.
Many disabled people rely upon programs such as Social Security Disability Income and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), both of which provide a monthly stipend to help them meet their basic needs. The New York Times reported About 4 million Americans are eligible for SSI. A recipient of SSDI is designated as a “disabled adult child” (DAC) of 18 or older whose benefits are linked to their parents’ Social Security.
The following is an extract from the Disability Rights and Education Fund (DREF), those who receive SSDI can also receive Medicare and Medicaid, which provide essential services that aren’t covered by private health insurance. But people with disabilities who receive these benefits are faced with a “marriage penalty,” forcing them to live separately from their spouses in order to keep receiving these lifesaving benefits.
According to DREF, if an SSI/SSDI recipient marries a non-disabled individual or someone with a higher income, they could lose their stipend, Medicare, and Medicaid. Even two SSI recipients married would see a 25% decrease in their benefits.
These penalties have been omitted in several attempts. For example, Rep. Jimmy Panetta’s Marriage Equality for Disabled Adults Act The bill would remove the requirement that DAC beneficiaries must be unmarried in order to receive SSDI or health care. The bill was presented by the California Democrat in January, and is currently being considered by committee. according to Forbes.