The federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program serves as critical income of last resort for many people with disabilities across the United States. Unfortunately, it penalizes people for getting married. If two SSI recipients of the opposite sex get married, or hold themselves out as married, their benefits are cut by 25 percent. Thus, people who love each other are forced to decide between critical income and a loving marriage commitment to each other, and all of the benefits that provide for themselves and their families. This is not only unfair, it is bad policy.
We are asking for your help in changing the Social Security rules that apply to SSI and SSDI recipients who want to marry. Like most Americans, many people with disabilities fall in love and wish to get married. However, most of us don't get married because of the Social Security rules that reduce our monthly benefits. It is called the Marriage Penalty.
Many people with disabilities live on a $637 per month federal SSI benefit, which is below the poverty level. When two people with disabilities of the opposite sex get married or hold themselves out to be married, their combined benefit as a couple drops to $956. That means we lose $318 for getting married or living like we are married.
It's hard for one person with a disability to live on $637 per month. It's even harder for two people to live on $956. The $318 we are penalized for falling in love and being together, makes the difference in whether we pay our utilities or buy our medication for the month. It's often not enough to do both.
As our representatives in Congress, we would like you to consider our request and help change the Social Security rules that make it difficult for us to enjoy one of the most fundamental rights of our humanity - the sharing of love openly.
Thank you for all that you do for the citizens of Montana and for people with disabilities.
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