In response to two court rulings in California (Livermore v. Heckler) and Massachusetts (Bouchard v. Secretary ), SSA's policy of using an optional State supplementary (OSS) payment rate for an individual in the couple portion of a spouse-to-spouse deeming
computation was revised. For residents of California and Massachusetts, an OSS payment
rate for an eligible couple is used when determining eligibility and payment in spouse-to-spouse
deeming cases to comply with the court orders.
To restore national uniformity to spouse-to-spouse deeming policy, the OSS payment
computation in all cases changed, effective October 1, 1988. When calculating the
amount of the OSS payment in all States with an OSS, a couple's combined countable
income in excess of the Federal benefit rate (FBR) for a couple is subtracted from
an OSS rate for a couple. The Federal and State payments must be computed separately,
both for an individual and for a couple.
The effect of the policy change is limited to:
Cases where the combined income of the couple exceeds the sum of the FBR for an eligible
couple plus the OSS for an individual, but is less than the sum of the eligible couple
FBR and the OSS payable to an eligible couple; i.e., prior to the policy change, these
individuals were ineligible; or
Cases where the OSS payable to a couple in the deeming computation exceeds the OSS
payable as an individual, and therefore the individual State supplement is used. Prior
to the policy change, the couple computation resulted in a lower payment, and so the
payment was made using spouse-to-spouse deeming. Effective October 1, 1988, these
cases are paid using the individual computation.