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Dilemma... SO recieving SSI, while I work full time?

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 

Okay, I have a dilemma here and I'm wondering if anyone here can give me some perspective on this situation, from a financial perspective.


I am currently dating a guy who doesn't work, but receives SSI benefits due to a mental disability (he is bipolar and clinically depressed, although this is currently well controlled by his medication.) I currently work full-time as a nanny, making about $800-900 a month, and am planning on attending school in the next month or two for medical coding and billing. We both live at home with our parents - I am 22, he is 26.


So, we were talking and I told him that I am concerned about the fact that if/when we move in together, maybe start a family someday (not for a while, obviously) I will pretty much have to be the breadwinner, seeing as he makes only about $670ish from SSI. I feel like I will have to be working all the time to support us/our family and that's not really what I want - I want to be able to spend lots of time with my child(ren), especially when they are young. Not knocking working/student/single mamas at all, it's just something that I've always wanted to do, right now I do the closest thing - being a full-time babysitter. Maybe I'm just having a hard time picturing myself juggling both a career and mommyhood...? Although I certainly know it's possible.. At any rate, I'm certainly willing to work part time or even full time if necessary, I'm really not an office-y career-type girl, but I feel like I'm willing to do whatever it takes, whereas he... feels that he can't (or perhaps won't.)


Anyways... my question is, is there anyone here who has been in a similar situation? How do you make it work, financially? Is there anything he can do to make under the table money, perhaps, or a way that he could work maybe part time but still receive SSI? Is there any chance of us ever being more than just scraping by day to day, especially seeing as how to continue to receive SSI he is not supposed to have more than I believe 2k in assets?

Side note... how do you handle the people that keep telling you that he's just lazy and to dump him? LOL. I know, this is not the relationship forum... just venting.  redface.gif

post #2 of 42

I will try really hard to not give relationship advice - but from a financial perspective, it sounds like if this is the man you want to start a family with, you need to come to terms that you are going to be the main breadwinner.  If this is not what you want, then ummmm, yeah. 


I really do not think you should even go the route of trying to get under the table work that he can do. 


And not having more then 2K in assets . . . well, buying even a 'safe and reliable' car to put the baby in would most likely put you over the 2K mark.  What about owning a house?  Is this the kind of lifestyle you want to create and bring a baby or two into?  OK, trying to not get into relationship stuff.

post #3 of 42

Hopefully someone who is in this situation will chime in.  I believe that you can have one paid off car and one with a loan, you can also have a mortgage.  I would not suggest working under the table as you could wind up in a world of hurt, but you can work a certain number of hours without it affecting your disability. 


If you are going to resent him because the stay at home parent role could naturally fall to him you need to figure that out now; $670 is not a lot of money.

post #4 of 42

First off - good for you for thinking about these things now. It's very important.

Second - I'm not really in that situation and I know you were looking for someone who was.

Third - he's bi-polar and depressed but it's well-controlled on medication. That's good. He's 26 and on SSI.  Does he expect to continue on SSI for the rest of his life? Or is there a possibility of overcoming his disability? An awful lot of people with both bi-polar and depression are able to lead productive lives and engage in meaningful work.


Which brings me to my final question - does he have MEANINGFUL work in his life? It doesn't need to be paid, but he should be doing something with his time that brings him joy, satisfaction and meaning. This should be part of his treatment for his depression. Is he engaging in some kind of talk therapy in addition to taking the medication?


You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders and you may love this guy - but you're very young and believe it or not, there will be more loves. Don't get sucked into saving anyone who doesn't want saving. All of these things would be bigger concerns to me than how much money he made.

post #5 of 42

A couple things I want to mention- and I don't want to offend anyone on here.  Mental health issues are a whole 'nother ballgame.  Just because meds are working this week, doesn't mean that something can't happen causing them not to work next week.  I've been there-sailing right along, great career, meds that worked for years and BAM, everything came to a grinding halt one day.  It took me a very very long time to become functional again.  And no I don't qualify for SSI.

Does your possible mate have meaningful 'work', does he volunteer, does he like to paint,etc- is he actively involved in therapy?(both med mgnt and 'talk therapy')

Is your possible mate happy with SSI of 670/mo for the rest of his life or does he want a change, a job, a career etc?   I would say if he doesn't have plans of wanting a career etc then you really need to think about the whole scenario.


But to answer your original question- working under the table is a huge no-no.



post #6 of 42

well i have a friend that gets disability  and also works 25 hours a week answering phones.  he owns a home and a nice vehicle too.  between his part time job and his benefits he makes about as much as an able bodied person would.


it is possible to be a WOHM and have a spouse that SAH.  that is what x and I did and DH and I do.  i love it

post #7 of 42

Scraping by SUCKS. And can challenge even the strongest of relationships. DH and I ended up here "accidentally". It is not something I would ever walk into intentionally.  I know you are asking for financial advice, and not relationship advice.  So I will back off, but my able bodied DH slipped into a deep depression when he was out of work, so the questions about whether he is doing something MEANINGFUL with his life is an important one, bcs that can help his mental health. ANd financial advice aside, all you need to do is read the parents as partners forum to realize that living with someone with depression and bipolar issues is a huge undertaking. Oops. I'm approaching things from a relationship standpoint, aren't I?  SOrry.


Listen, when I was 22 I was very idealistic and a hopeless romantic and told my friends that I'd be happy with a cigar band for an engagement ring if I loved "him". So I get where you are coming from and it's good that you are thinking about the logistics of what a life together will look like.


Me? I married a guy that has the ambition to take over the world but got a swift kick in the pants when the economy crashed. We are living in debt, underemployed, we qualify for WIC, state health, fuel assistance.  It's not a life that I would ever want for my kids when they grow up(I have three daughters). So proceed carefully. You get to choose, to a certain extent, the life you will lead. Mine didn't turn out the way I thought it would, but dh finally got work in his field and things are starting to get better. I know the potential is there, and there isa huge sense of relief in that. If I thought/knew we were going to STAY like this....ugh.


It sounds like you know what your priorities are...are you willing to give those up?

post #8 of 42
Sounds like a tough situation! I just have one thought for you -- have you thought about skipping the medical coding training and seeing if there's a field you could get into that would allow you lots of time with your children? I'm thinking of things like starting an in-home daycare, since you love kids, or some other kind of small business... There are options that would allow you to be home and be the breadwinner at the same time, and you might be able to work this out even better than I did since you have so much time to plan accordingly. I work from home and DH does work (well, not at the moment, he's laid off, but usually he works!) and I have been the 'main' breadwinner for a while now because DH's field just doesn't pay well at all. I stay home with DS and do lots of fun things with him, so I get the best (and worst!! lol) of both worlds. I do wish we had done some things differently (perhaps not bought our house, for example) because it would have eased the financial strain a bit, but of course I did the best I could with the knowledge I had at that time, won't get into my personal reasoning here!

Sorry I do not have more info on how SSI works... though I wouldn't recommend working under the table, that could really backfire and I believe it's illegal...
post #9 of 42

I agree with what the previous posters have already told you.  I'll add this:  The choice of whom you marry is just about THE MOST SIGNIFICANT FINANCIAL DECISION THAT YOU WILL EVER MAKE.  Does your SO even want to have a family and have a home-as-much-as-possible wife??--not clear from your post, but it's definitely something you should be talking about with him.  You want someone who shares your values and goals, and you're young enough to have plenty of time left on the biological clock, if things don't work out with this guy.


Things will be much simpler, financially, if you marry (whomever) before moving in together or entangling your finances or having children together.  I also strongly recommend premarital counseling--finances is one topic that is covered, along with other issues that are best faced sooner rather than later.  (Clergy often provide free premarital counseling.)


You'll generally be in better financial shape to have one parent stay at home with the children if you base your budget on a single income from the start (any other income can be saved or used for extras).  Not easy in a two-income world, especially with low income, but worth it.  I suppose SSI could considered part of the primary income, in this case.


I did date and marry and have children with someone that has had some serious financial and mental issues (not bipolar) , and I don't regret it--he is a good guy, and he has done a lot of growing up in the last few years.  But I was older (29), and we had known each other for years before we became interested in each other.  I also am used to living on a lower income, and somewhat enjoy the challenge of meeting financial goals, and I mostly don't mind being ten or more years behind my peers in terms of goals met (buying a home, etc.).      



post #10 of 42

This is my mom's situation exactly. She works full time, and her husband recieves SSI. When they got married, they lowered the amount he gets due to her income. I'm sure if she had to do it over again, she would not choose the same path.

post #11 of 42
Edited by kristandthekids - 1/16/13 at 6:20pm
post #12 of 42
Originally Posted by kristandthekids View Post

Originally Posted by weasleyx View Post

I am currently dating a guy who doesn't work, but receives SSI benefits due to a mental disability (he is bipolar and clinically depressed, although this is currently well controlled by his medication.)
Well controlled by his medication, but not controlled well enough that he can work?

I can't give you any advice on how to handle the people like me who would tell you to dump him. smile.gif
Seriously, there's 7 billion people on the planet. You can find someone else. zebra15 is right. Controlled now does not mean controlled later.

I have similar views to the above. If this man's illness is good enough on medication, then why doesn't he get back to work? And if its not.. do you really want him raising your kids? That is the part that makes me worry.greensad.gif
post #13 of 42
I agree with the others in that just because meds work now, doesn't mean they will always work or that he will be willing to take them. And that if they are so well controlled, why doesn't he work? Is he perfectly happy to just receive SSI and not have to work? If so, what else is he perfectly happy to get by not doing? I dated a guy with severe bi-polar, he was my high school sweetheart, and even though I loved him, it was awful and his bo-polar really took a toll on the relationship. I eventually left him for a healthier guy and I am so happy I did. I feel bad for my ex that he has to deal with that in his life, but I was so young and I was not willing to deal with that, too, for the rest of my life. It would have negatively affected me forever. I couldn't even imagine having kids with him, because he didn't work or at least not very steadily and my dream was always to be a SAHM so I needed to be with someone who supported that dream for me, too, both financially and emtionally. Not that I only wanted to be with a rich guy by any means (because my DH is NOT rich LOL!) but a guy who would be willing to work a little extra harder and sacrifice a little more of the "extras" so that I could stay home. I agree with the PP who said scraping by sucks and it makes for a very hard life, in addition to the bi-polar, sounds like a tough road. If all your bf wants to do is sit back and collect SSI, then perhaps you should not get married because they will lower his amount and then you will have to work even harder. And medical billing and coding is hard to do from home in the beginning and even once you are lucky enough to land a WAH job, you can't do it with little kids around. So will your bf be up for watching the kids?
post #14 of 42

When I was 19-21, I was engaged to a guy who sounds like he had some things in common with your SO.  My fiance had bipolar disorder with substance abuse issues and suicidal tendencies.  He was on disability, but did work part-time, under the table, as a bartender (not a great career for a guy with alcohol issues).


Honestly, I dumped him.  His grand plan was for me to drop out of college, get a full-time job, and have lots of babies as soon as possible.  Then he would be a SAHD/rockstar musician, and I would support the family.  Even though at the beginning of the relationship I was so head over heels in love with him that I promised him I was "sane and responsible enough for the both of us," I realized that I wouldn't be able to have the future I wanted if I married him.  I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom when my kids were young, and I knew that some measure of financial stability was/is really important to my sense of well-being.  I knew I would resent him if we had a family together.  The other big issue for me was that my fiance stopped taking his medication every few months and would sink into a deep, paralyzing, can't get out of bed for weeks on end type depression.  I just didn't see how it would be possible for him to be the full-time parent in that situation.  If you do choose to marry this man, I would think seriously about how you would handle the situation if for some reason his meds stop working or he stops taking them.


I don't say this to scare you, but in my situation, I'm relieved we didn't have kids together.  My fiance ended up committing suicide the year after we broke up.  I knew that was a real possibility, and figured heavily into my decision not to have kids with him.


(This was mostly relationship advice and not financial advice, and I apologize for that).

post #15 of 42

I watched a similar situation with a good friend and her family for over 6 years and it was a hot mess, to be honest.


Never enough money, her DH was not a good and functional caretaker for their young children, and she didn't want to leave her babies, so she worked from home, but didn't make enough to support them without relying on a ton of social services. Several of their kids have special needs themselves, which has added to their overall burden. And they just keep on having more of them (on baby #5 at the moment.)


Nothing about their situation is going to improve with time: her DH will only become more disabled (he has a progressive medical condition), their expenses will only increase as the children get older, and since they are continuing to expand their family, that only further delays her return to full-time work that might pay enough to support them. Not to mention the psychological and emotional toll all those burdens takes on both partners in the relationship.


Looking at it objectively, it's not a life many of us would deliberately choose.





post #16 of 42

Everyone has made good points. You need to carefully consider the future. It doesn't sound like you are so head-over-heels that you can't. We have a good friend who is bi-polar and also has depression. In the last 20 years I'd say she has had 11 good working years (Harvard-trained attorney), five years of in-patient living, 1 year of living on the streets when her family couldn't find her,two suicide attempts and three years of working but being really unstable. She has the best possible support system (loving educated parents, brother who is MD, financial support). Like others said, controlled now is not controlled in the future. But it could be.


[Edited to add: She has chosen to not have or raise children because she has a strong genetic component to her condition (6 close relatives with bi-polar; five suicides in the family as well), takes strong medicine, and isn't willing to take the risk of become an unstable parent as her family ages. She also thinks that needing to care for another person will make her less able to care for herself, thus suffering a relapse.  She has had many serious relationships but her unwillingness to have children has always had the biggest issue. She has never been on SSI; her parent's have always provided financial support when she has needed it. When she is well and working, she provides for herself.]


As for finances, it might not be what you want but sometimes we have to accept what the people we love can bring to the table financially. If this is the person you want to love and have a family with, you may need to be the primary breadwinner even if you don't want to be. And no, I would not advocate finding under the table work.

Edited by JudiAU - 6/7/11 at 11:37am
post #17 of 42

I agree with the others, and I wanted to share a friend's story because it's similar to the scenario that OP posted about.


My friend's dh has a back problem, had surgery, and is limited by the type of work he can do now. He was trained and was working in a job for years where he had to use his back but can't now. He has been searching for 2 years for an alternative type job but so far he has struck out. 


My friend (spouse of above dh) was working a good professional job, then decided to go back to school. She got full scholarship and just finished school, and just landed a job (yeah!). While she was in school they applied for gov't help and received food stamps, and family helped with rent.


Now she's about to start her new job which pays enough to support the family, but not enough to set aside savings and really be comfortable. But now they may not qualify for extra gov't help except for her dh's SSI if decides to apply for that finally. She will always be the main breadwinner and that's a lot of pressure on her. She will be working long hours and missing the kids, and watching her spouse take care of them. He is not a SAHD in his heart and is always trying to find a job, but having seen this pattern, not sure if he will ever really find one that he can do or likes.


My friend has good spirits but I can see this being a source of resentment over time. I am wondering the same thing about your situation. Love can only go so far, and then when the honeymoon is over you start to feel resentment and the realities of the life you both chose start to manifest and wear on you. Especially if that's going to be a permanant situation. If you can trust this person to be a good SAHD then great, but if his mental issues are going to sometimes affect the family and he's not one you can totally 100% rely upon, it's going to be really hard.

post #18 of 42

I live with bipolar disorder (II). However, it was recognized very very early, and I have not needed meds to treat it.  I have never been hospitalized.  I have made choices to enable me to live productive life despite having to deal with it.  I can't fathom not deciding to be in control enough that I would ever qualify for SSI.  In my case- that would be a choice, it would mean waking up and not following through with the things I need to do to stay healthy in an emotional and physical sense.  Sure, I can see myself sliding down that hill if I wasn't careful, but that is precisely why I am careful. 


BPD does not generally mean that someone can't work and should qualify for SSI.  If it is very extreme, maybe, but I would not be in a relationship with someone that ill because it simply wouldn't lead to any semblance of a healthy life for anyone involved, and I sure as heck wouldn't choose to have a child with someone who was that poorly controlled. 


If your boyfriend wants to, he can get off SSI and contribute to society.  At this point that isn't the choice he is making. Do you want to be with him even if he decides never to be that kind of person?  Can you envision your life with someone who says his illness is well controlled, but still won't DO anything to effect positive change within his life for the long run?  


Yes, if you stay in this relationship and this man chooses to remain dysfunctional, you are setting yourself up for a very challenging life journey. 

post #19 of 42

I have to agree with the other posters.  If he can not even hold a regular job, I would not trust him to be the primary caregiver of any children.  You are young.  I would walk away from tnis if I was you.

post #20 of 42

I agree with the above posters....the person you choose to marry will have a huge impact on your financial life, and your personal life.


My first husband was not a very motivated person. We started dating in college. It should have been a big clue when we had been living together two months and I was working 16 hour days and he wasn't working, or doing any household chores. When we got had children, I had a difficult first (and second) pregnancy. I had to stop working, so we decided I would stay at home. It was very hard. For a long time, he worked two low paying jobs, we only had one car. I was trapped at home because I couldn't get out with the babies, and I didn't have anywhere to go anyway. The stress from financial insecurity really drove us apart (we had other problems too, but his lack of motivation was a large part of it). I was always pushing him, pushing him to get a job, pushing him to get a promotion. It was hard on me, and hard on him. No part of it was quaint, or cute. I enjoy being frugal with my money, and finding good deals. I did not enjoy counting change from the change jar to pay for the things we really needed. It was stressful - constantly stressful. The stress was exhausting. We racked up massive (to us) debt, and it was unlikely we would ever be homeowners.

After we split, I got to be very good with my money. I had to be, I was supporting the same household, on half the income. Surprisingly, it was easier and I was able to pay off about $14K of it in 3 years (I have less than 10K to go). But, it wasn't an easy road.


I would not chose to have a family with someone who is not financially stable. When it came time to find Husband #2 (DP for now...) I specifically looked for someone on good financial ground. I asked questions. I chose someone with no debt, a good job (tenure even), who shared the same goals and values I do. I want to stay at home with my babies, for a while at least. That was a huge factor when we decided to have child #4. I worked, as a single mom to 3 kids...it was so hard. OP, I think that given the scenario you laid out, it would be a similar experience. I worked long hours, barely saw the kids and had to rush around trying to get everything done. I waited tables and bartended, most days I was so exhausted, that as soon as I got the kids in bed I would just pass out as soon as I sat down. I didn't look forward to the next day, even if it was a day off because there was always something I needed to do....dishes, laundry, errands, kids activities. I wouldn't go back to it unless I had to do it to support my kids. I was much more careful choosing my second partner.



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