The marriage penalty
Share Now on:
Amber and Diana got engaged after just a year of dating. Gay marriage was illegal in most states at the time, but it was more about the symbol, being committed. It would take six more years for them to tie the knot.
“I do remember, like, one of my vows … was the ‘in sickness and in health,'” Diana said. We’re using pseudonyms for both her and Amber to protect their privacy. “That was very important to me.”
“She knew I was a rough piece of work,” Amber said.
Amber had been diagnosed with a painful bladder condition when she was young — there was no cure, and they knew it would mean expensive treatments and doctor appointments for the rest of her life. Marriages come with all kinds of challenges, and Amber and Diana were ready to face them — for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.
But nothing could have prepared them for the maze of bureaucracy they would have to navigate to get disability benefits.
Amber got Supplemental Security Income, a program for low-income people with disabilities that provides cash assistance and access to Medicaid. The battle to get approved took three years and a court date. But staying eligible for SSI means meeting strict income and asset limits — Amber and Diana learned they couldn’t have more than $2,000 in savings, a number that hasn’t changed since 1989.
“It’s like our government wants to keep us in a state of abject, complete poverty in order to get any sort of health care” Diana said.
On today’s show, we’ll follow her and Amber’s odyssey through that complicated, arcane system — and the crushing revelation that the best way to keep their marriage vows might be getting divorced.
If you liked this episode, send it to a loved one dealing with the health care system.
For more “This Is Uncomfortable,” subscribe to our newsletter! It’s not just a link to the podcast — every Friday, you’ll get a new, exclusive Uncomfortable story, recommendations from our team and a note from Reema. This week, she talks about celebrating Ramadan during the pandemic. Here’s the latest issue, in case you missed it.
Finally, if you want to tell us what you thought of this episode or anything else, drop us a line at 347-RING-TIU (347-746-4848), email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form below.
The future of this podcast starts with you.
We know that as a fan of “This is Uncomfortable,” you’re no stranger to money and how life messes with it—and 2021 isn’t any different.
As part of a nonprofit news organization, we count on listeners like you to make sure that these and other important conversations are heard.