This past Friday, the United States became the 21st nation and the most populated country to legalize same-sex marriage. Although
gay marriage has been a divisive issue and will likely continue to spark
political conflict, it is now legal in all 50 states, including Nevada.
With the legalization of same-sex marriage, gay married couples will now
become eligible for many federal benefits. Same-sex couples will also
have full and equal access to benefits such as spousal and survivor benefits
for Social Security disability (SSD).
Friday’s Supreme Court decision is still fresh, and the Social Security
Administration (SSA) has announced that it is working with the Justice
Department to analyze the ruling and create specific instructions for
same-sex couples seeking SSA services - but still encourages same-sex
couples to apply for benefits as soon as possible.
Here are some details about what the ruling means when it comes to Social Security:
Spousal Benefits - Lower earning spouses in a same-sex marriage will be able to collect
spousal benefits based on their own record or half of their higher-earning
spouse’s benefits. Divorced individuals (including same-sex divorcees)
who were married for 10 years will also be able to claim spousal benefits.
Spousal Disability Benefits - When the breadwinners in a family become disabled, their spouse can
obtain support through spousal SSD benefits. Same-sex married couples
will now have access to these benefits.
Survivors Benefits - Social Security provides benefits to surviving spouses after the first
spouse passes. These benefits ensure survivors are eligible for SS benefits
based on the earnings of the deceased spouse.
Numerous individuals and families across the country will now benefit from
gaining access to a range of safety-net programs and benefits - something
that speaks volumes about the financial and social impact of legalizing
same-sex marriage. If you or someone you love has questions about these
programs, visit the
SSA website or
contact Shook & Stone to discuss your needs.