Should You Marry Your Long-Time Partner For Medicare or Social Security?
The programs treat marriage differently
Unless you live in one of the 9 states that still recognizes Common Law Marriage (the big states are Texas, Colorado, and Montana), then you can’t qualify for Social Security, nor Medicare, off of your partner’s work record. This can really hurt women who stayed home to raise the couple’s children and didn’t pay into the Social Security or Medicare system.
How can you help your partner gain access to SS and Medicare?
You only have to be married for one year to be eligible to draw benefits off of your spouse. For Widow benefits in the case of your death, you only have to be married 9 months. I’ve had quite a few clients with terminal illnesses call me for advice and I recommend that they get married as soon as possible.
If your partner didn’t work and pay into these systems for at least 10 years, then she can qualify off your work record. She’ll be able to get Medicare at age 65 and Social Security Spousal benefits when she is at least age 62 and you are at least age 62 (and drawing benefits).
Many people are afraid that their partner’s high income will negatively impact them. That is true if you marry and file jointly. If your combined income from 2 years prior to starting Medicare exceeds the earning’s limit (in 2019 you can’t make more than $176,000 as a couple) then you will BOTH pay more for your monthly Medicare Part B premium.
If you are low income, there are many programs that might assist you paying for Medicare Part B and D, that marriage might disqualify you from.
If you are on Social Security Disability, your spouse’s income in no way impacts your ability to draw SSDI. YOU have a strict earning’s limit you can’t exceed, but your spouse can be a millionaire. SSDI doesn’t have an asset test. They don’t ask how much you have in your stock portfolio, only if you are able to work or not.
Sometimes Divorce Is The Best Option
If you were married PRIOR to your current relationship, you may NOT want to remarry. If your first marriage lasted at least 10 years and that spouse was a high-income earner, you can draw up to 50% of his benefit as long as you haven’t remarried before age 60 (age 50 if disabled). Your new partner may be pushing for marriage, but this is something to consider. You may benefit financially by living together and not remarrying until after age 60 to preserve your right to draw off a prior ex-spouse.
There are no special rates for married couples on Medicare. However, many supplemental insurance plans (such as Plan G) do offer a discount if you both enroll in the same plan.
__________________________________________________________________Sylvia Gordon trains Medicare insurance agents in all 50 states. If you have more questions about Medicare, Social Security and retirement, contact Elliot@themedicarefamily.com.