On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage in all states.
Since this ruling, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes same-sex couples’ marriages in all states as well as some non-marital legal relationships (such as specific civil unions and domestic partnerships), in determining entitlement to Social Security, Medicare, and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
Here are some items of importance that same-sex couples should know about SSA benefits:
- Marital status matters: same-sex couples can receive Social Security benefits when a worker retires, becomes disabled, or dies. Marital status is also considered during the determination for eligibility and payment amounts for SSI.
- The type of benefits available: SSA taxes pay for three kinds of benefits- retirement, disability, and survivors. If an individual is entitled to benefits, their spouse and eligible family members might receive benefits, too.
- Children may receive benefits: Children or stepchildren could also be entitled to benefits.
- The application date for benefits is important: If you’re married or have entered a non-marital legal relationship, even if you’re not sure of your eligibility, applying now will protect against the loss of any potential benefits.
- Report life changes right away— Let SSA know immediately if you move, marry, separate, divorce, or become the parent of a child. Waiting until benefit review to notify SSA about any changes could affect benefits being paid correctly.For more information, please visit the SSA website for same-sex couples. You can also read their publication What Same-Sex Couples Need to Know.
*The above information is intended for informative purposes only and is not legal advice. For advice on your specific situation, please contact an experienced elder law attorney in your area.