Earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the definition of marriage as between only a man and a woman under the Defense of Marriage act was invalid. This ruling opened up the possibility for same-sex couples across the country to be eligible for federal benefits, and last week, the Social Security Administration announced that it was beginning to take claims from same-sex couples for benefits they may be owed.
Same-sex married couples are now able to submit claims to the SSA seeking retirement benefits or other Social Security benefits. Officials at the SSA announced that they will be working on a policy around this issue that is in compliance with federal law. Once they have been given set instructions on how to handle claims, they will begin processing them.
In addition to spouses being able to seek benefits, the children of federal employees who are in a same-sex marriage will be able to benefit from certain programs, including health insurance.
As we wait for the SSA to come up with a plan for processing benefits claims, many people in New York who were not able to seek benefits for a long time can finally enjoy the same rights as others.
While this announcement did not mention disability benefits, being part of a federally recognized marriage can affect your disability insurance -- sometimes in a negative way. If you're not sure how your benefits will be impacted, it may be helpful to speak with a Social Security disability attorney.
Source: The Washington Post, "Social Security Administration now processing same-sex marriage benefit claims," Eric Yoder, Aug. 12, 2013