Feds Announce Social Security Benefits For Spouses In Same-Sex Marriages

Via press release from the office of Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security.

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. The recent Supreme Court decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, made just over a month ago, helps to ensure that all Americans are treated fairly and equally, with the dignity and respect they deserve. 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. I encourage individuals who believe they may be eligible for Social Security benefits to apply now, to protect against the loss of any potential benefits. We will process claims as soon as additional instructions become finalized.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Chris Geidner reports at Buzzfeed:

The Social Security Administration is limiting payment of claims for same-sex married couples currently to those couples who were married in a state that allows same-sex couples to marry and are “domiciled,” or live, in a state that recognizes same-sex couples’ marriages.

The decision means claims from same-sex couples married where such couples can legally marry but who live in a state that does not recognize such marriages are having their applications put on hold for the time being.

As of Friday, a new section for “Windsor Same-Sex Marriage Claims” — named after the Supreme Court case of United States v. Windsor, which resulted in a part of the Defense of Marriage Act being struck down — was added to the Social Security Administration’s Program Operations Manual System (POMS), which the agency describes as the primary source of information used by Social Security employees to process claims for Social Security benefits.

The claims processing instructions “allow for payment of claims” when the claimant “was married in a state that permits same-sex marriage” and “is domiciled at the time of application, or while the claim is pending a final determination, in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.”