Social Security begins making payments to married couples living in marriage states
August 12, 2013
On Friday, the Social Security Administration announced that they have begun processing and making payments to retirement claims from married same-sex spouses. The change is a step forward following up on the implementation of June's Supreme Court ruling striking down the central part of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act - but, at least for now, it is leaving many married same-sex couples in the country behind. Same-sex couples living in one of the 13 states with the freedom to marry and Washington, D.C. will be eligible for Social Security payments.
For now, the policy is limited to same-sex couples living in marriage states. The administration has not yet announced how same-sex couples who married in a state with the freedom to marry but move to a non-marriage state or live in states without marriage will be treated.
On Friday, the acting commissioner of Social Security announced:
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. We continue to work closely with the Department of Justice. 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.
The Social Security announcement marks the first major implementation of the DOMA ruling where marriage protections are granted based on place of domicle - where the couple lies - instead of place of celebration - where the couple married. Read all about how the DOMA ruling affects same-sex couples in a variety of key programs HERE.
Freedom to Marry is continuing to pursue a final end to federal marriage discrimination through the Roadmap to Victory, which calls for advancing work on three tracks - winning more states, growing the majority, and ending federal discrimination - so that we can return to the U.S. Supreme Court with a critical mass of states and undeniable momentum in public opinion so that the court can rule for national resolution. Fully repealing the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and working for the broadest implementation of the DOMA ruling - including with regard to the Social Security protections - are important steps in the path toward national victory.