An Ohio Couple Brings Attention to the Difficulty People with Disabilities Experience When Deciding to Get Married

Social Security Income (SSI) is an income supplement program for people who are aged, blind, or disabled, and have little to no income. The funds supplement basic needs, such as clothing, food, and shelter. 

Unfortunately, as it stands, SSI benefits change when people marry. Because it is based on income, the funds will then be measured with both incomes in mind.

One study found that if two people with disabilities marry, they receive roughly 25% less than two people with disabilities who live together, but aren’t married (2). Sometimes, living together is a contributing factor to limiting these funds, and those people may decide not to live together at all (3). People with disabilities are forced to put off major life changes to keep their benefits. couple 1246304 1920

A bill that was proposed in May of 2019 would protect those benefits for people with developmental disabilities who marry (2). It’s called the Marriage Access for People With Special Abilities Act. But it hasn’t been passed yet, leaving people with these disabilities in limbo.

An Ohio couple, Sherri and Bill Adams, just married after five years of being engaged and trying to figure out a way to sign the papers without losing benefits (3). Both Bill and Sherri have severe developmental disabilities.

Together, they receive less than $2,000 a month, and their marriage would have significantly diminished these benefits. Last year, Sherri found a loophole for them, by taking advantage of her late father’s Social Security. But many other couples across the country don’t have that option. 

Since the bill hasn’t gained enough support to become a law, Sherri and Bill are still the exception, not the rule. Individuals with disabilities all over are hopeful that this bill will become a law so they can have the right to marriage that so many take for granted.

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  1. Social Security. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2020, from
  2. Harding, R. (2019, March 12). Bill Would Protect SSI Benefits For Couples Who Marry. Retrieved January 31, 2020, from
  3. Price, R. (2020, January 21). Couples With Disabilities Navigate Red Tape On Way To Altar. Retrieved January 31, 2020, from

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