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.