Possible Solutions to the Disability Marriage Penalty


Choosing a marriage partner is a fundamental right that many people have the freedom to exercise. Marriage is more than just having someone to provide you with companionship. It’s all about having a partner to share your experiences with, build a family, and commit your whole lives to on the foundation of love and principles.

However, individuals with disabilities don’t have the luxury of simply marrying the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Unfortunately, they have to choose between one or the other: love or accessible health care in Missouri.

A Hard Act To Follow, a trusted provider of home healthcare services in St. Louis, Missouri, wants to address the disability marriage penalty and how it affects the lives — and happiness — of individuals with disabilities. For those who haven’t heard of the disability marriage penalty, it is a penalty given to individuals with disabilities who choose to be married or cohabitate.

The disability marriage penalty brings more problems than it does solve issues that the community for individuals with disabilities faces daily. In truth, it has only pushed back the concept of marriage for those with home health care needs and forced those who have tied the knot to separate and get a divorce.

And this is where the problem lies.

It’s a common assumption that marriage can alleviate financial struggles as it combines the income of two people. That is not the case, however, if one or both people in that partnership struggle with a disability. With the penalty in place, their financial support would decrease to at least 25%. When one partner has a disability, there’s a chance that they will lose their financial aid altogether, making it harder for those who rely solely on Medicaid benefits to live fulfilling lives.

Though there is still hope, according to the Saint Louis University Journal of Health Law & Policy, it provides an array of potential solutions to our brothers and sisters in the disabled community, and we’re here to help share those solutions.

  • Spousal Refusal
    This will allow non-beneficiary spouses to reject their disabled significant other’s financial obligations, especially when it comes to personal care assistance, skilled health care, and mental support. With this stipulation, the partner who has a disability would have to depend on their financial stipend and make their ineligibility status void.
  • Changes in Marriage Determination
    This is an indirect solution to changing what marriage constitutes. In this solution, states would have to refuse to grant marriage status to couples, leaving religious and private sectors to determine what marriage is and isn’t. But this change comes with its own set of risks, too.
  • Changes in the Principles of Eligibility
    The most straightforward solution is to remove one’s marital status as part of the eligibility determination and criteria for receiving financial aid.

As we continue to explore these potential solutions, we can only hope that one or more of these can make a positive change in the lives of individuals with disabilities.

If you or your loved ones need quality care services, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 314-328-1355. We will give you the utmost care!

At our agency, alongside our home care programs, we also offer homehealth care internship services for those interested in the world of caregiving.

“A Hard Act To Follow is a community that believes in advocacy! WE DONT MIND fighting for what’s right!”

– CEO Danny Lawrence
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