The website Ozy.com recently ran an article documenting how disabled people often have to get divorced simply to keep their health insurance and other benefits. It is worth reading as a reminder of how being disabled carried more burdens than chronic illnesses.
It's All About Money
As noted in the article, the problem comes down to money. A disabled person who is eligible for Medicare or Medicaid could lose those benefits if his spouse makes more money than these programs allow. The same is true for the disabled who receive SSI or disabled adult child benefits. Even those
persons who might otherwise get disabled widow's benefits can lose them simply by getting married.
The article has all the details, including the fact that Social Security has not raised the dollar amount of assets a person can have since 1989. This, despite the fact that $3,000 in 1989 dollars would be the equivalent of $6,000 today.
Disabled Have Much Higher Rates Of Divorce
All of these financial pressures may be contributing to the divorce rate among the disabled. As the Ozy report noted, the disabled get divorced at significantly higher rates than other Americans. In fact, twice as many disabled people get divorced each year than get married. For the able-bodied, there are four marriages for each divorce.
Not Good Policy
Forcing couples who want to say married to get divorced just to maintain disability benefits does not seem like good public policy. Much of American law and regulation is designed to encourage marriage by offering generous incentives, like lower tax rates. Marriage equality is now considered a civil right, so why not extend it to the disabled?
There is no easy solution to this problem, but Congress and the states need to address it. To let this go on would continue an insult to the already-wounded.