Social security survivor benefits and marriage/marriage alternatives

littlestars

Learning
My boyfriend isn't good at keeping secrets and often ruins surprises. He recently told me that he wanted to marry me and wanted to know what kind of engagement ring I would like. I felt happy, but I knew I wouldn't be able to actually have a traditional marriage with him because I would lose my benefits. My mental health comes before anything else, but it would be nice to have him be my husband someday. I know we would most likely have a long engagement until I am well enough to work again or he can support us. I'd honestly earn my own money and have my own career if I were married/in general. Anyway, I was wondering if there was an alternative to marriage in New York State that would allow me to have an official partnership where he is my spouse without losing my survivor benefits. I have survivor benefits because I had SSI and then my father passed away so I "inherited" his social security. Any help would be appreciated. I'm looking into anything really.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
I'd guess that any kind of formalized partnership will carry the same weight (legally) as marriage.

Here's a different way to look at the question - what would you gain in a marriage (or partnership), that you want to be able to have? I suspect there are ways to get spousal-type rights in case of medical emergency, for example...I'm just curious, what you would want out of a partnership/marriage?
 

littlestars

Learning
We want to have children in the future. I thought it would be easier to be legally married when finally did. I suppose I should research alternatives to marriage. Maybe we can have some type of commitment ceremony that would mean the same thing, but it wouldn't have to do with all of the legal stuff that comes with being married. That might be my best option. My therapist says I am making progress in working on my ptsd. By all means I am in no rush, but I didn't want his feelings to be hurt if five or more years go by and we are still unable to do it. But like I mentioned earlier, I should probably just look into alternatives if my mental health isn't stable enough to handle children and having my own career/income (aka getting off of disability). Right now I am just trying to figure out what my future may be like honestly.
 

grief

Sponsor
you will likely need to hold off on legal marriage until you are financially independent. for things like power of attorney or life insurance you can typically select whichever benefactor you would like. they do not need to be related to you. (unfortunately you may run into some issues if your partner is hospitalized and things, some places are very strict about visitation policies. so you should definitely consult the laws in your area.) however if you have a child with him he will have parental rights regardless of your marital status.
 

littlestars

Learning
I have a friend who is on SSI (for a disability) and her partner is fully functioning, working, etc. They had a commitment ceremony and didn’t get married because she couldn’t afford to lose her benefits, especially on the health insurance side. She does not live in NY though.
I was thinking about having something like that or a long engagement until I am stable in a career/job. Thank you for your input. ☺️

you will likely need to hold off on legal marriage until you are financially independent. for things like power of attorney or life insurance you can typically select whichever benefactor you would like. they do not need to be related to you. (unfortunately you may run into some issues if your partner is hospitalized and things, some places are very strict about visitation policies. so you should definitely consult the laws in your area.) however if you have a child with him he will have parental rights regardless of your marital status.
That's what I was thinking too. This is probably going to be in five years or more away, so I have some time to figure things out. Thank you for responding to my post. Very helpful ☺️
 
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