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Social Security News

Social Security Clarifies Policy on Same-Sex Married Couples to Process More Claims

Begins processing many claims in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages or non-marital legal relationships - Also see 'Sen. Wyden Welcomes Carolyn Colvin to Head Social Security'

June 20, 2014 - Social Security has published new instructions that allow the agency to process more claims in which entitlement or eligibility is affected by a same-sex relationship. These instructions come in response to last year’s Supreme Court decision in U.S. vs. Windsor, which found Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. 

Sen. Wyden Welcomes Carolyn Colvin to Head Social Security

June 20, 2014 – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden issued the following statement on the nomination of Carolyn Watts Colvin as commissioner of the Social Security Administration:

 “It’s welcome news that the administration has put forward a nominee to head the Social Security Administration. Social Security is one of our most important safety-net programs and it has been without confirmed leadership for too long.  As the program that protects seniors, families, and workers with disabilities, Social Security must be strengthened and preserved for current and future workers. 

As Chairman of the Finance Committee, I will work to move this nomination as quickly as possible.  Social Security deserves the certainty of a confirmed leader who can work with the Congress and the American people to keep it strong.”

This latest policy development lets the agency recognize some non-marital legal relationships as marriages for determining entitlement to benefits. These instructions also allow Social Security to begin processing many claims in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages or non-marital legal relationships. 

“We have consulted with the Department of Justice and determined that the Social Security Act requires the agency to follow state law in Social Security cases. The new policy also addresses Supplemental Security Income claims based on same-sex relationships,” SSA says in a news release issued today.

“As with previous same-sex marriage policies, we worked closely with the Department of Justice,” said Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. “We are bound by the law within the Social Security Act, and we have to respect state laws.  We remain committed to treating all Americans fairly, with dignity, and respect.”

SSA also says that any person believing they are entitled or eligible to receive benefits should apply right away.

 

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Read more Social Security News also check Medicare and Senior Politics

 

Background

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Therefore, Social Security no longer is prevented from recognizing same-sex marriages to determine entitlement or payment amount.

Social Security has published new instructions that allow the agency to process more claims in which entitlement or eligibility is affected by a same-sex relationship.

This latest policy development lets the agency recognize some non-marital legal relationships as marriages for determining entitlement to benefits. These instructions also allow Social Security to begin processing many claims in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages or non-marital legal relationships. 

Your same-sex marriage may affect your SSI eligibility or payment amount and the agency is now considering same-sex marriages or relationships when processing some claims for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Those with questions, are referred to SSA’s frequently asked questions.

If you have questions about how a same-sex marriage or non-marital legal relationship may affect your claim or to tell us if you are married, separated or divorced, please call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office.

Advocates, members of the media, and others with general questions about same-sex marriage or non-marital legal relationship, and Social Security Administration programs, may contact their local Regional Communications Director.

To learn more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/same-sexcouples.

>> Informational flyer for Same Sex Couples from Social Security

 

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