Couple co-habiting because of loss of disability income


Hi All,
My friend and his girlfriend met in a mental hospital,fell in love,moved in together- forgoing marriage because they fear a reduction of their disability income if they get married.
They are Catholic and very much want to get married but if they get married they will lose a portion of the disablity because of their married status. They are already quite poor.
They have made many attempts to become employed but their severe depression keeps them both from being able to hold down a job, so they really need this income.
Does anyone know about the laws governing disabilty? Is this true? It seems very unfair to them to penalize them for getting married by :confused: reducing the amount they receive each month. loThey are afraid that even inquiring would cause problem and they might loss their checks.


**I can’t speak to the legal side of it or even be much help because I am in Canada. But I do receive a disability pension so know a little of how the government approaches these things.

Both of your friends (in the government’s eyes) are receiving enough money to live independently. Two places to live, two sets of bills, two grocery budgets etc. So, if they get married they assume that the cost of living goes down and therefore so should the payments. Who cares that they aren’t high enough to live on in the first place?:rolleyes:. Just moving in together doesn’t affect it because they can be seen as “room mates” each paying rent etc.

Now, I don’t know about the Sates, but here once a couple is living together for a certain period of time (I believe it’s a year) they are automatically considered common law and all of the same rules apply as if they were married…

So they need to find an anonymous way to call and ask questions because in time it may not matter much anyway.**


This is meant to be lighthearted and not legal advice…

But can’t they get married in the Church then legally separate?


On a serious note, have they contacted any organizations who might be able to assist them in finding a career fit to their individiual needs?



If these people are so depressed that they cannot hold down a job, perhaps they should not marry. People whose depression does not allow them even to hold down jobs would not be able to handle raising children. And one particular activity belonging to marriage often results in the little buggers.

This sounds to me similar to the elderly couples who don’t marry so that their Social Security won’t decrease. A masterful catechist I know who usually breaks his back trying to find ways to be compassionate to people’s situations and to be charitable in his comments called that “serving Mammon instead of God.”


Two individuals who have mental problems to the point of being in a mental institutionand being unable to hold a job due to severe depressions should NOT be contemplating marrying anyone… let alone each other. They are in no position to welcome a child into their lives, and should instead focus on getting well.

Regarding legal issues, they should consult a lawyer. Regarding spiritual matters, they should consult their priest. The absolutely should not be cohabiting outside marriage.


Common law is recognized in several states, including Montana where I live. It’s not a fixed number of years though but other criteria, and usually it’s not invoked until one party is dead and the other one is claiming some benefit or inheritance.




Thank all for your input.

I agree that it probably would have been best for them to never have co-habited in the first place.
I neglected to add that they are already the parents to a lovely eight year old little girl and she is very well cared for by both her parents. I know that the little girl becomes sad when her parent needs to go into the hospital but she seems to have a wisdom beyond her years when it comes to understanding her parents disabilities. In my opinion she is a little saint.
But given your input, I think it best to encourage them to proceed with marriage and hope that God will bless them for their courage.


I don’t really understand how they can be capable of raising a child, but not capable of some kind of job?

God Bless


As usual, I have a few things to say…
First… I have known some mentally retarded folks that got married and had a “normal” child. Yes, they had social services help them with babycare education and other stuff like that… and they were the cutest couple in the world!!!

Second, loss of income is true… I had a gf that was receiving a pension from her first husband dying and if she remarried before age 55 she would lose it… so they lived together until she turned 55 which was sooooo wrong!!! I was receiving food stamps and medical for my kids until I got married… the very next month it was cut off… it sucks but it is a fact of life! So what you have to look at is what is more important… your money or your immortal soul??? I hated it when we lost medical insurance… and I just recently got done paying off my bill from my miscarriage… when I had another one… with insurance… fully covered!!! So what? When I found out I was pregnant I called around and several places out and out told me to lie to get free medical…even my priest seemed to think the ends justified the means… I asked him what kind of example this would be setting for my children…


They have gone through programs for job training successfully. They have each tried several times thoughout these past 10 years but the end result is that time lost from bad days and poor interaction with co-workers has cause them to loose their jobs. They just haven’t found an employer who is willing to put up with some of the behaviors that they exibit in a working environment.

As for the child care, usually one parent picks up the slack for the other parent when severe problems- when anxiety, depression set in and hospitalization becomes necessary. Of coarse this is far from what anyone would want a child to have to deal with. They also have a good support system, social workers and family and neighbors who help with the child. When a problem comes up usually the child goes to grandmoms or aunts house until the crisis is over, usually a day or two. She knows that mom or dad is not feeling well and that they suffer from mental illness and that they will be home as soon as they get treatment. I hope I don’t sound glib about this but this is how it happens. And I don’t have a better solution for this child, this is just what happens.
I just think that if I could find a way to help them marry, I don’t see them separating, that the situation would greatly improve. I’m not looking for a spiritual loophole but maybe a government one.
Thanks again for your input>


Getting married or holding themselves out as husband and wife (a common law marriage situation) would reduce the monthly SSI benefits to both. See the link provided for info from the government website regarding this issue.

Basically they are “cheating” the system at this point by living together which reduces the amount of monthly expenses that are estimated when awarding someone benefits as an individual or a single person with a child. It may not seem “fair” to reduce the monthly benefit when people get married, but what would make it fair in reality would be to penalize unmarried couples who live together for the same logical reason, reduced monthly expenses when combining 2 households into 1.


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