Feds To Retroactively Grant Social Security Spousal Benefits To Couples In States Affected By Obergefell Ruling

If you are living in one of the eleven states that didn’t have same-sex marriage until the Obergefell ruling, the federal government will now retroactively offer Social Security spousal benefits. The Hill reports:

Susan Sommer of Lambda Legal said the government’s decision “could right a wrong for hundreds of same-sex spouses” who lived in the 11 states that didn’t recognize same-sex marriages before the Supreme Court’s decision in June. Sommer said the decision will hopefully pave the way for widows and widowers who lived in those states to get spousal benefits and make it easier for same-sex couples to get retiree benefits. Dave Williams, an Arkansas widower, and Kathy Murphy, a Texas widow, had sued the government after being denied spousal benefits. The two argued that the Social Security Administration should recognize their marriages retroactively and give them full spousal benefits. Both Williams’s husband and Murphy’s wife died before the Supreme Court decision in June.

(Tipped by JMG reader Keith)

  • Gustav2

    We eldergays salute you!

    • EdmondWherever

      I’ll be 46 next week. Do I count (please say no, please say no)?

      • Mark

        Not until you have your AARP card……

        • Gustav2

          And when you turn 50 they hunt you down.

          • Yes! Every single month they send me crap, which goes right into the lidded round file.

      • pickypecker
      • Gustav2

        Umm, No?

        😉

      • 46? Dear, the back of your ears have just dried out! Now go out there this weekend and live it up!

        • EdmondWherever

          Oh, I’m saving my money for the new Star Wars toys in two weeks! I bet I’m still a little wet back there.

          • Oh! New toys! I am collecting minion toys. Those minions make me laugh like nothing else.

          • EdmondWherever

            They’re cute. But I have an SW collection going back to since I was 8. Lots of vintage stuff (but not still in the box. Like I tell my husband… I do not collect boxes!) Super psyched for all the Episode 7 stuff!

          • Those folks who buy stuff and leave it in the boxes are nuts. The items are supposed to be touched!

            While I watched Star Wars I’ve been a hard core Trekkie since the first episode of the original series that I saw.

          • EdmondWherever

            I love Trek too, when I moved in with my husband (not that we were married then) he made me choose, Wars or Trek. There was no competition. I gave all my Trek stuff to a friend who loves it. He was thrilled, though it wasn’t much more than a shoebox full. My SW stuff doesn’t even all fit in the garage.

            But yeah, I like to pose my stuff and shift it around. Can’t do that in a stupid box! I don’t care if the monetary value goes down, the sentimental value is through the roof.

          • I used to do that to my action figures too! I would arrange them in “action” shots, some of which were fairly elaborate. I would tuck an action figure next to the toaster, or leaning against the milk jug in the fridge.

            Wars has much, much better toys!! It’s not even close really, sigh.

          • EdmondWherever

            I think SW just got a better head-start in toys when it all exploded in the 70’s. Not sure why ST toys never got the same traction. Plenty of ST is cool enough for toys, I had a TNG tricorder, with lights & sounds. At least they’re both represented well in models, with all the ships from both. I remember when I was a kid I had a model of Spock shooting a phaser at a 3-headed snake monster coming out of the ground.

    • brian

      Question: what is the difference between old queens and eldergays? At what age do we depart one and enter the other? Is it all age or does attitude play a part? Asking for a friend as I am but a mere 55 years old but due in large part to a chronic pain issue often feel like I’m 76 going on 90. Inquiring minds want to know.

      • Ray Taylor

        Pure attitude for whichever one prefers.

      • Gustav2

        Has AARP sent you a membership request? LOL

        • brian

          Repeatedly. DOB of 1959 here.

          • Gustav2

            ELDERGAY!

          • brian

            Personally, I refer to it as old queen,

      • RoFaWh

        About that chronic pain: have you tried cannabis?

        Within the medical community it is recognized by many that it is a good and effective agent for pain control. In fact, some doctors consider it the single best pain relief agent even though it’s not in the pharmacopoeia.

        My own cut on it is two-step: one, a lot of pain is due to muscle spasms as the body tries to immobilize a bum joint. Two, cannabis is a superb muscle relaxant, so it relieves those spasms and thus relieves the pain. This may, or may not, be relevant to your condition.

        The drawbacks to cannabis include (a) its profound illegality in many places; (b) it leaves some people stoned, not just free of pain, and while being stoned is a pleasure to many, it’s not a pleasure to all; and (c) different strains have different effects from one person to the next, so it may require some experimentation to find a strain that works for you.

        • brian

          Big medical marij. user here. CBD allows me to eat on a regular basis and keep it down. Insofar as pain control, not so much. Although it does help. Additionally, I also have n embedded pain pump that keeps the Diludid flowing directly to the pain point(s).

          • BudClark

            LURVE me some Diludid. Took me long enough to GET it (!).

          • brian

            We should talk.

  • David L. Caster

    Silly states, federal benefits are for everybody.

    • lymis

      Especially when it is declared unconstitutional to have every denied them.

      This is wonderful, but it only covers those who managed to get married somewhere, and only beginning on the date of that marriage. How many couples do we see who are “newlyweds” now but who have been together for decades? And the couples where one spouse died before marriage was legal anywhere they could access it?

      • RoFaWh

        Does the SSA recognize common law marriages?

  • MarkOH

    GREAT news!!!

  • BearEyes

    glad to see the right thing being done.

    • Chucktech

      …without having a lawsuit involved.

  • Andy King

    Voting matters, and it will continue to matter in 2016 and every election after.

    • Gustav2

      Especially the non-presidential years!

      • JT

        Despite what some crazy people say.

        • sssshhh!

          • Bill_Perdue

            Don’t be frightened. Fewer and fewer people take you Republican/ Democrats seriously. Rebranding didn’t stop Democrats from losing the House and then the Senate and it didn’t slow the bleeding from his party. Nor will it slow the political demise of his brothers and sisters the Republicans. Even some of them are rebranding, including Trump.

            Both are parties of losers and both are parties of NO when it comes to LGBT equality in the form of ENDA or a CRA.

            In 2012 Obama got 52.% of the actual and a mere 29.% of the eligible vote. Voter turnout dipped from 62.3 percent of eligible citizens voting in 2008 to an estimated 57.5 in 2012. That figure was also below the 60.4 level of the 2004 election… Despite an increase of over eight million citizens in the eligible population, turnout declined from 131 million voters in 2008 to an estimated 126 million voters in 2012 when all ballots are tallied. Some 93 million eligible citizens did not vote. http://bipartisanpolicy.org/press-release/2012-election-turnout-dips-below-2008-and-2004-levels-number-eligible/

          • Todd20036

            I think fewer people voted because of apathy more than anything else. You still have to abide by the government other people vote for, regardless of your views.
            If you don’t like that, then your only option is to vote… or move.

          • Bill_Perdue

            Apathy. That doesn’t account for the fact that your rightwing party lost 27 million Obama voters in 2010, causing your right wing party to lose the House. Or do you think that there was a mass attack of apathy in 2010, or in 2014 when your right wing party lost the Senate.

            Socialists do vote and we are eating into the numbers of people who are still fooled by your right wing party.

            Too bad for rightists like you but socialists aren’t going to go away. We going to say and pound away at rightists like you and your brothers and sisters in the RP by pushing for a decent minimum wage and for unions for low wage workers. If you don’t like that maybe you should take your millions and move to Russia, run by a rightwing bankster named Putin.

          • JT

            It knows who it is.

        • Bill_Perdue

          Crazy people like “A new scientific study from Princeton researcher Martin Gilens and Northwestern researcher Benjamin I. Page has finally put some science behind the recently popular argument that the United States isn’t a democracy any more. And they’ve found that in fact, America is basically an oligarchy.

          Comparing the preferences of the average American at the 50th percentile of income to what those Americans at the 90th percentile preferred, as well as the opinions of major lobbying or business groups, the researchers found out that the government followed the directives set forth by the latter two much more often. It’s beyond alarming.

          As Gilens and Page write, ‘the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.’ In other words, their statistics say your opinion literally does not matter.” http://mic.com/articles/87719/princeton-concludes-what-kind-of-government-america-really-has-and-it-s-not-a-democracy

          Actually, the crazy people are those who shill for the Democrat/Republicans.

          • JT

            Crazy people like those who think that throwing away your vote and giving elections to wingnuts doesn’t matter, that the selection of SCOTUS members doesn’t matter, crazy people who generally are detached from reality.

          • Bill_Perdue

            I just repeated the facts. Talk to Gilens and Page. Their analysis says you’re delusional and irrelevant.

          • JT

            Wrong. Their analysis says nothing about whether SCOTUS appointees matter among other things. Your claim that they don’t is delusional.

          • Bill_Perdue

            Denial won’t help you. The Supremes vote based on who pressures them the most, not which rightwing party they belong to.

          • JT

            That is another one of your outrageous delusions. And even if pressure had something to do with their votes, different people would have different susceptibilities to pressure, so the choice of justices would matter.

          • Bill_Perdue

            Poor thing.

          • JT

            You’ve got nothing. LOL.

          • Bill_Perdue

            I’ve got Gilens and Page, who say you’re delusional and irrelevant and I’ve got the the decisions by the Republican dominated California and Massachusetts pro-marriage equality Supremes who say that you’re either a liar or that justices from both right wing parties vote for us, not because they like us, but because LGBT folks built a massive and effective movement to compel them to rule in our favor.

          • JT

            Wrong again. The Republican justices you’ve mentioned are not wingnuts. Once again, you cannot make distinctions at all. You are delusional.

          • Bill_Perdue

            So when they prove me right they’re all of a sudden not wingnuts. How clever of them. I think you’re the only nut in this conversation, but that’s ok because you’re delusional, irrelevant and represent the party of right wing losers.

          • JT

            Now you’re being intentionally thick, you’re so delusional. As was clear before, you can make no distinctions. Anyone without that mental defect, could readily admit that there are and have been Republicans who are not wingnuts. The Warren Court, one of the most liberal in history, was presided over by an Eisenhower appointee. But you’re too ignorant to know that and too much of a delusional ideologue to admit it.

          • Bill_Perdue

            You continue to lie.

            Thinking that voting matters is a lie. It does not and that is established fact. As Gilens and Page write, ‘the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.’ In other words, their statistics say your opinion literally does not matter.” http://mic.com/articles/87719/princeton-concludes-what-kind-of-government-america-really-has-and-it-s-not-a-democracy

            Thinking that voting for Democrats will lead to better decisions by the supremes is a lie when I’ve already established that Republican justices vote for us at least as often as Democrat justices.

            So where does that leave you? Irrelevant and in tatters. Poor thing.

          • JT

            You are so delusional you can’t even correctly interpret the things you post.

            An inability to make distinctions and a mindless adherence to ideology delivers your erroneous conclusions. Again, not all Republicans are wingnuts just as not all Democrats are liberals.

          • Bill_Perdue

            Keep trying and maybe someday it’ll dawn on you that you’re just a Republican in drag, and not very bright to boot. But even if that happens you’ll still be irrelevant, a very minor shill.

          • JT

            Your delusions are running away with you. So is your Stalinist approach. Your stupidity is extraordinary.

          • Bill_Perdue

            Keep trying and maybe someday it’ll dawn on you that you’re just a Republican in drag, and not very bright to boot. But even if that happens you’ll still be irrelevant and extremely minor and very shrill shill who helps enormously to give your fellow Dixiecrats a bad name.

            That’s a good thing.

          • JT

            Repetitive delusions indicate mental instability.

          • Bill_Perdue

            Keep trying and maybe someday it’ll dawn on you that you’re just a Republican in drag, and not very bright to boot. But even if that happens you’ll still be irrelevant and extremely minor and very shrill shill who helps enormously to give your fellow Dixiecrats a bad name.

            That’s a good thing.

          • JT

            More repetition. It didn’t make sense the first time.

          • Bill_Perdue

            Keep trying and maybe someday it’ll dawn on you that you’re just a Republican in drag, and not very bright to boot. But even if that happens you’ll still be irrelevant and extremely minor and very shrill shill who helps enormously to give your fellow Dixiecrats a bad name.

            That’s a good thing.

      • GC

        Even for “small” local races like school boards. Our young people need and deserve fact-based education in areas like science and sexuality and health.

    • another_steve

      People need to keep in mind that Administrative “legal interpretations” and Administrative executive orders can be reversed. Changing a statutory provision requires an act of Congress, but changing a regulatory provision does not. It wouldn’t be “easy” for a Republican Administration to change a pro-LGBT regulatory provision, but it would be possible.

      Pro-LGBT executive orders can be erased overnight. We’ve seen this many times at the state level.

      Please remember all this, people, when you go to vote.

  • another_steve

    My professional career put me in close contact with the Social Security Administration, and I know from experience that it’s one of the more compassionate and human-friendly federal agencies.

    Every federal agency has a “culture.” Federal workers — active and retired — reading here will understand.

    SSA is people-oriented. Always has been.

  • Jeff

    Any idea how retroactive (length of time) this is.?

    • Chucktech

      I would imagine, back to the time of your legal marriage.

      • Jeff

        We were together for over 27 years when he passed from terminal cancer in 2004. At that time Massachusetts was the only state where same sex marriage was legal. He wanted to go there and get married, but I resisted because I thought it would be too much for him. I’m one of those “poster child” cases for gay marriage. Here’s a little tidbit from back then, and I swear it really happened. Upon learning of his death, the evangelicals next door actually tried to keep me out of our house; I had to call the police.

        • Chucktech

          Jesus fucking christ, how awful.

          But, yeah, if you guys had gotten legally married there and lived in a state that didn’t recognize your marriage, you would now be retroactively included in the SS rules regarding survivor benefits.

        • billbear1961

          Pure evil–unadulterated malice–venom masquerading as virtue, as Pelosi rightly said.

          They’re afraid, some of them, that there will be retribution for their crimes.

          Sadly, there won’t be, but the fact they fear it is their guilty conscience speaking up, regardless of whether or not they consciously realize it.

          • Bill_Perdue

            No wonder you like Pelosi.

            According to Peter Camejo “Nancy Pelosi should be understood as someone who… voted for a motion for unequivocal support for George Bush’s conduct of the war in Iraq, and she led the Democratic Party to vote for that. … She led the Democrats in giving George Bush 35 standing ovations in the State of the Union address in 2005. Every single time he used the word Iraq, all the Democrats rose to give him a standing ovation.”

            She voted for FISA and for the Paytriot Act. She drew a line in the sand about impeaching Bush because she and the Democratic leadership would be – and are – practicing the same kind of genocidal policies for the same reason – to steal oil. She supported the recent health care scam that will continue to condemn tens of thousands to an early death and that will, over time, give trillions to insurance and pharmaceutical company owners.

            Aside from that, the main reason you kowtow to her is that she’s rich. Very rich. “While the median net worth of an American family has declined by nearly one-third between 2007 and 2013, members of Congress have recovered quite well from the recession. The Senate’s median net worth went from $2.3 million to $2.8 million over that period, while for members of the House the numbers went from $708,500 to $843,507. … Of the other five members worth $100 million or more, two are Republicans and three are Democrats. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi broke into the nine figures in 2013, increasing her average net worth from $87.9 million in 2012 to $100.8 million in 2013. Pelosi’s increased wealth seems to result from the increased value of several pieces of property she owned in northern California. She also has a stake in the United States Football League, worth between $5 million and $25 million, and a similar-sized stake in the league’s Sacramento franchise.”
            http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2015/01/one-member-of-congress-18-american-households-lawmakers-personal-finances-far-from-average/

  • bkmn

    Nice windfall for some peeps. Bout time.

  • Bad Tom

    THANK YOU, Obama!!!

  • Chucktech

    Since the premise of this injustice was an unconstitutional law, this doesn’t surprise me. If this had been a Republican administration, we would have had to sue the government.

  • Herald

    Some wonderful news for this Friday!!!!

  • BobSF_94117

    It’s a small victory. It leaves unaddressed — and never to be addressed — the issue of hundreds of thousands of couples unacknowledged over the decades. Other countries have tried to do something to deliver justice to those folks — and to be honest, it was a lot easier in some cases like Canada — but we don’t exactly excel in retroactive justice in this country, so I don’t expect much more than this.

    • lymis

      Hell, we were only allowed to refile our taxes for the three years allowed by law – like we “forgot” to file as married, even though we were married much longer ago. And that’s WITH a legal marriage under our belts.

  • Ninja0980

    But remember folks, the parties are the same.
    Can you imagine this happening under a president McCain or Romney?

    • The idea of what damage either of these men could have caused our country is the stuff of nightmares. And now that we are back in another election cycle, the worry and the bad dreams are returning.

      • Ninja0980

        I know the damage McCain could have done with SCOTUS alone.
        Deborah Cook, one of the judges who upheld the bans in the 6th, was at the top of the list for a SCOTUS appointment if McCain had won.

  • 2karmanot

    The devil’s in the details. We were together 25 years. We married in June of 2014 and my baby died July 10th. SS has denied me spousal benefits because we were not married at least a year. I received a letter declaring that if we had been the equivalent of ‘common law’ or had a Domestic Partnership, I would be eligible. I am making the point that those categories were and are not the equivalent of full marriage rights under what is now Federal law governing same sex marriage.

    • Todd20036

      The religious right made sure that common law marriage wasn’t “everything but the name” which is why we went for the brass ring and why the tea baggers’ attempts to offer common law marriages after it looked like we were going to win rang hollow.
      All that being said, I am truly sorry for the shit you have to go through.
      Can you take this to court?

    • StraightGrandmother

      It sounds to me like you did have a common law marriage, did you have a joint bank account? Were you joint on any utilities? I would fight it. Are you fighting it? I realize the death benefit is a pittance but if your spouse had hired earnings paid into Social Security you can collect a higher monthly benefit based on their earnings.

    • Common law marriages are EXACTLY equivalent of a go-to-the-courthouse-and-get-a-license marriage. You need to pursue this route to see if you would qualify. Start first with determining if your state is one of the few where common law (informal marriage) is legal.

  • Fantastic!!

  • Bill_Perdue

    Good.

  • billbear1961
  • Jean-Marc in Canada

    Excellent!!! Now cue the usual suspects and their wailing and teeth gnashing.