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Social Security Administration will process some survivors’ benefits for same-sex couples

DOMA trials Marriage equality

Edith Windsor. Attribution: Talking Points Memo
Edith Windsor. Attribution: Talking Points Memo
Changes to federal government policy continue after the Supreme Court’s June ruling in United States v. Windsor striking down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Social Security Administration has started to process survivors’ benefits for members of same-sex couples. The Washington Blade reports on the change:

Carolyn Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security, said in a statement that benefits will begin to flow to the surviving spouses of same-sex marriages — at least in some cases — in the same way they flow to survivors of opposite-sex marriages.

“I am pleased to announce that, effective today, Social Security is processing some widow’s and widower’s claims by surviving members of same-sex marriages and paying benefits where they are due,” Colvin said. ”In addition, we are able to pay some one-time lump sum death benefit claims to surviving same-sex spouses.”

In August, the Social Security Administration announced similar policy on new benefits for same-sex couples in the aftermath of the court ruling on DOMA. But the announcement months ago pertained to retirement benefits, unlike the announcement Monday regarding survivor benefits.

As they note, some benefits will be placed on hold: couples who moved to states where same-sex marriage is illegal will have to wait for policy changes.

The SSA’s statement can be read here:

“I am pleased to announce that, effective today, Social Security is processing some widow’s and widower’s claims by surviving members of same-sex marriages and paying benefits where they are due. In addition, we are able to pay some one-time lump sum death benefit claims to surviving same-sex spouses. As I stated shortly after the Supreme Court decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, our goal is to treat all Americans with dignity and respect.

We ask for continued patience from the public as we work closely with the Department of Justice to develop policies that are legally sound so we can process claims.

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

The Supreme Court ruled in June that it violates equal protection and due process principles for the federal government to limit marriage benefits to opposite-sex couples only.

2 Comments

  • 1. Kanor  |  February 21, 2014 at 5:01 am

    same-sex marriage is illegal will have to wait for policy changes

  • 2. Ahmad Saadillah  |  March 9, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Great post, thank you for sharing it to me
    greetings

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