SSR 80-31: Section 1611(a)(1)(A) and 1614(f)(1) (42 U.S.C. 1382 (a)(1)(A) and 1382c(f)(1)) Supplemental Security Income—Eligibility—Excess Income—Deeming of Income from Ineligible Spouse
20 CFR 416.1185(a)
The Social Security Administration (SSA) determined that the claimant was ineligible for supplemental security income (SSI) benefits because of her income, which is deemed to include the income of her ineligible spouse who lives with her in the same household, exceeded the limit in section 1611(a)(1)(A) of the Social Security Act (the Act). The claimant testified that her husband refused to give her money; instead, he spent it on himself. The claimant contended that because her husband's income was unavailable to her, his income should not be deemed to her. Held, the claimant's income is deemed to include, as provided in section 1614(f)(1) of the Act, income of her ineligible spouse who lives with her in the same household, regardless of whether his income is available to her. Further held, the claimant is ineligible for SSI benefits because her total countable income exceeds the limit provided by statute.
The claimant meets all factors of eligibility for SSI benefits except with respect to the question of income. Accordingly, the issue is whether the claimant's income, other than income excluded pursuant to section 1612(b) of the Act, exceeds the limit set forth in section 1611(a)(1)(A) of the Act.
The record reveals that the claimant had been found ineligible for SSI benefits based upon excess income, the excess income being created by deemed income from the claimant's ineligible spouse.
At a hearing, the claimant testified that she was 64 years old. She lives with her husband and a 21 year old granddaughter in a home owned by the husband. The granddaughter is neither married nor in school and helps with household chores. The claimant indicated that her husband received $40.00 monthly in food stamps, $156.00 monthly in West Virginia State retirement benefits, and $211.00 monthly in social security benefits. The claimant indicated that she receives $95.00 in social security benefits and contended that her husband's income should not be deemed to her as his income was unavailable to her. The claimant alleged that her husband spent his money on himself and refused to give her any of it.
Section 1611(a)(1)(A) of the Act provides that an aged individual who does not have an eligible spouse and whose income, other than income excluded pursuant to section 1612(b), does not exceed a certain limit shall be an eligible individual for purposes of the Act.
Section 1611(c)(1) of the Act provides that an individual's eligibility for benefits "and the amount of such benefits shall be determined for each quarter of a calendar year except that, if the initial application for benefits is filed in the second or third month of a calendar year, such determinations shall be made for each month in such quarter."
Section 1612(a) of the Act states that "income" means both earned and unearned income. "Earned income" means only wages and net earnings from self- employment, as defined in sections 203 and 211 of the Act, respectively (with exceptions as provided in section 1612(a)). "Unearned income" means all other income.
Section 1614(f)(1) of the Act provides that: "for purposes of determining eligibility for and the amount of benefits for any individual who is married and whose spouse is living with him in the same household but is not an eligible spouse, such individual's income and resources shall be deemed to include any income and resources of such spouse, whether or not available to such individual, except to the extent determined by the Secretary to be inequitable under the circumstances."
Section 416.1185(a) of Regulations No. 16 states, in part, as follows:
"In the case of an individual who is living in the same household with a person not eligible for benefits under this part who is, or who is considered to be, such individual's husband or wife in accordance with the provisions set forth in §§416.1001- 1041, the eligible individual's income shall be deemed to include . . . any income (as defined in section 416.1102(a)) of the ineligible spouse whether or not such income is available to the ineligible individual."[*]
Section 1614(f)(1) clearly directs that, for purposes of determining SSI eligibility of a married individual, the married individual's income shall be deemed to include any income of an ineligible spouse, whether or not the income is available to the claimant. At the hearing, the claimant herself testified that she lived in the same household with an ineligible spouse whose income, when deemed, would cause the claimant's income to exceed the permissible limit under section 1611. That the ineligible spouse's income is not always available to the claimant does not necessarily preclude the deeming of the income for SSI eligibility purposes.
Therefore, even though her ineligible spouse's income is unavailable to her, under section 1614(f)(1) of the Act, the claimant's income is deemed to include the income of her ineligible spouse. Therefore, the claimant is ineligible for SSI benefits because her total countable income exceeds the limit provided in section 1611(a)(1)(A) of the Act.
[*]The remaining portions of §416.1185 of the Regulations set out the method for determining how much of the ineligible spouse's income is deemed to the claimant. As provided in the regulations, under certain circumstances, none of the income of the ineligible spouse is deemed to the claimant and in no case is all of the ineligible spouse's income deemed to the claimant.