Tuesday, August 20, 2013

SSA processing spousal benefits for same-sex couples

On August 9, 2013 the Social Security Administration (SSA) issued a short (and sweet for spouses who have been waiting for their benefits) press release.

“I am pleased to announce that Social Security is now processing some retirement spouse claims for same-sex couples and paying benefits where they are due. The recent Supreme Court decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, made just over a month ago, helps to ensure that all Americans are treated fairly and equally, with the dignity and respect they deserve.

We continue to work closely with the Department of Justice. In the coming weeks and months, we will develop and implement additional policy and processing instructions. We appreciate the public’s patience as we work through the legal issues to ensure that our policy is legally sound and clear.

I encourage individuals who believe they may be eligible for Social Security benefits to apply now, to protect against the loss of any potential benefits. We will process claims as soon as additional instructions become finalized.”

To learn more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov.

WVSLA encourages anyone who thinks he or she may be eligible for a spousal benefit now because DOMA has been overturned to apply for benefits. There is likely no harm in applying even if you are unsure of your eligibility, and by applying as soon as possible you preserve your claim as SSA continues to develop the specifics of its policies related to same-sex couples. Questions that have yet to be answered by SSA include whether couples legally married in one state but now living in another which does not recognize same-sex marriage, and whether civil unions and domestic partnerships will be considered legally on par with marriage.

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