The road to marriage equality in the United States, which was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court one year ago today, was paved by dozens of legal actions at the local level and years of political volleying between states that recognized same-sex marriage and those that banned it.
One thing is clear in recent Social Security Administration handouts and documents regarding same-sex marriage: In light of the court’s historic move to recognize the legal rights of these couples and families, the SSA now aims to serve same-sex spouses and families in the same way that it caters to “traditional” married couples.
Keep reading to find out about four specific ways that marriage equality affected Social Security recipients and beneficiaries:
A crowd assembled outside of the U.S. Supreme Courton June 26, 2015, awaiting the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)
1. Same rights for all couples
The Supreme Court’s decision on June 26, 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges affirmed the rights of same-sex married couples to the same Social Security benefits as opposite-sex married couples.
Same-sex unions are recognized as legal marriages by the Social Security Administration, and couples are eligible for the same benefits. This move added to the precedent already set by the Supreme Court’s June 2013 decision in United States v. Windsor, which determined that same-sex couples married in jurisdictions where such unions were legal then, were also eligible for equal consideration when it came to spousal benefits. The SSA also now considers cases in which same-sex American couples were wed outside of the country.
Source: “2016: Social Security & Medicare Facts,” by Joseph F. Stenken (The National Underwriter Co.)
2. Equal responsibility
A same-sex union, or civil union, can affect Social Security or Supplemental Security Income entitlement.
Recipients are expected to inform the Social Security Administration of their marital status. Just like all marriages, a same-sex spouse’s income and resources are taken into consideration when determining benefit eligibility.