LOS ANGELES - A crucial bill has been introduced to address a long-standing issue faced by disabled individuals in the United States concerning marriage equality. Contrary to common belief, marriage equality is not a reality for disabled people in the U.S. due to an existing penalty associated with getting married.
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program was designed to assist individuals with disabilities by helping to meet basic living needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. However, the program penalizes individuals with disabilities enrolled in the program if they exceed having just $2,000 in a bank account. That is the maximum amount a person can have in the bank before the federal government rules that they are no longer eligible for SSI.
Referred to as the "marriage penalty," this system adversely affects disabled individuals, as their asset limit only increases from $2,000 as an individual to $3,000 as a couple, whether the person they marry is disabled or not. As a result, disabled people find themselves unable to save for their future, emergencies, or have any additional spending money beyond covering basic fundamental needs.
H.R.6405, or the "Marriage Equality for Disabled Adults Act," aims to address this issue by increasing the federal asset limit for disabled individuals from $2,000 to $10,000. For couples, the limit would be raised to $20,000, signifying a significant improvement from the current restrictions. It also expands access to SSI and Medicaid for married Disabled Adult Children (DAC) recipients.
Military veteran and amputee Dmitry Matviyenko, 25, and his wife patriotic writer Alexandra Makarova, 34, pose during an interview. (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images)
Despite the significance of this proposed bill, it has not received adequate media coverage. The bill's success hinges on widespread support and awareness, making it essential for the public to engage in advocacy efforts.
The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in January 2022 and still has several hurdles before it is signed into law.