Social Security, Medicare adjusting programs to
accommodate married gays, lesbians
Social Security pays spouse claims for same-sex
couples; Medicare changes nursing home coverage in Medicare Advantage
Sept. 3, 2013 - Social Security and HHS made
announcements in August of changes in their programs to meet the demands
resulting from the Supreme Court's rejection of the Defense of Marriage
Act. Social Security has begun paying spouse claims for same-sex couples
and Medicare is providing spousal nursing home care in Medicare
Advantage without consideration of sexual preferences.
“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, said Carolyn W. Colvin, acting
commissioner on August 9.
"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.
She noted that the agency is working closely with
the Department of
She added, "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.”
provisions for Medicare Advantage
All Medicare beneficiaries in private Medicare plans will have equal
access to coverage in a nursing home where their spouse lives,
regardless of their sexual orientation, says a news release issued by
Health and Human Services last week. This is the first guidance issued
by HHS in response
to the recent Supreme Court ruling, which held section 3 of the Defense
of Marriage Act unconstitutional.
“HHS is working swiftly to
implement the Supreme Court’s decision and maximize federal recognition
of same-sex spouses in HHS programs,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen
Sebelius last Thursday.
“Today’s announcement is the first
of many steps that we will be taking over the coming months to clarify
the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision and to ensure that gay and
lesbian married couples are treated equally under the law.” (Read
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