SSR 79-16: Section 1612(a)(2)(A) and 1614(d) (42 U.S.C. 1382a(a)(2)(A) and 1382c(d))—Supplemental Security Income—Eligibility— Marital Relationship
20 CFR 416.1007 and 416.1035
This female claimant lives at the same address as that of a male friend, but they do not hold themselves out as husband and wife to their community. They share household expenses equally; each has individual sleeping quarters; each buys his or her own food; and each owns his or her own car. They do not introduce themselves as husband and wife and are not known as such throughout the community. Held, the claimant and the man with whom she shares a household are determined not to be husband and wife as defined in section 1614(d) of the Social Security Act. Therefore, the income of the man is not countable income for the claimant.
The general issue is whether any portion of the income of the person with whom the claimant is living is to be included in the claimant's countable income in determining her eligibility for Supplemental Security Income payments. The specific issue is whether or not the claimant and her male friend may be considered husband and wife for purposes of the Supplemental Security Income program based on the parties' living together in the same household. If they are considered husband and wife, the income of the man must be considered to be available, in part, to the claimant and therefore countable as part of her income.
Restating section 1614(d)(2) of the Social Security Act, section 416.1007 of Regulations No. 16 of the Social Security Administration provides "If a man and a woman are living together in the same household, and holding themselves out to the community in which they reside as husband and wife, they shall be considered husband and wife for the purposes of title XVI of the Act." The claimant was notified by letter that since she was living in the same household with a man, his income was considered part of her income and her Supplemental Security Income checks had to be terminated because of the countable income available to her in the household. She alleges that although she is living in the same household with a man, they are not holding themselves out as man and wife.
To determine whether the claimant and the man with whom she is living are husband and wife, information supplied by the parties must satisfactorily establish in accordance with regulations section 416.1035(b) whether the parties are or are not holding themselves out in the community in which they reside as husband and wife. That section requires that the applicant and the person with whom he or she is living submit statements setting forth the nature of their relationship and the following information:
1) by what names the parties are known,
2) how the parties introduce themselves to others,
3) how mail is addressed to the parties,
4) whether any documents indicate the parties are husband and wife, and
5) whether their residence is rented or owned by one or both of them and what names are shown on the deed or lease.
The claimant stated that she found a house and told her male friend about it, and they decided to share the expenses of renting the house. She pays $50.00 a month rent, the phone bill, and part of the electric bill as her portion of the expenses. They each have a separate bedroom. The furniture in the house is hers other than a recliner and a television.
The claimant stated that she buys her food and her friend buys his. She owns a car and he owns his own car. They have separate checking accounts.
The claimant stated that they do not represent that they are husband and wife to the community but identify themselves by their own names.
Two friends of the claimant who have known her for 3 years stated that the claimant has not held herself out as the spouse of the individual with whom she has been residing. The claimant's reputation is that she is unmarried.
The person with whom the claimant is residing explained that they do not introduce each other as man and wife. They do not receive mail as man and wife. No deeds, installment contracts, tax returns, or other papers show them as husband and wife. The house which they rent is in his name alone.
The claimant has provided credible information to establish that she and her friend do not hold themselves out as husband and wife. Although they live in the same household, they should not be considered husband and wife as set out in section 1614(d) of the Social Security Act and in section 416.1007 of the Social Security regulations. Therefore, it is found that Supplemental Security Income payments were improperly terminated. Since the claimant is not deemed to be the spouse of the individual with whom she is living, the income of that individual is not available to her and, therefore, not countable for SSI purposes. She is entitled to Supplemental Security Income payments as an unmarried individual.