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Justice Department Approves Retroactive Social Security Benefits for Gay Couples


Same-sex married couples from states that did not recognize their marriages were finally able to begin collecting social security benefits last week. The Social Security Administration will now retroactively be applying the Obergefell v. Hodges decision to couples with pending claims who were married before the SCOTUS decision and who lived in states that previously did not recognize same-sex marriage. Widowers, widows, and retirees from all over the country who have worked hard for their Social Security benefits will soon be able to receive them.

The Obergefell case came about in response to 2013’s Windsor decision, which declared that gay couples were entitled to receive federal benefits. While this decision helped many couples whose marriages were recognized by their state of residence, couples in states that did not acknowledge their marriages still were not deemed eligible by the Social Security Administration to receive spousal-related benefits. Now that same-sex marriages are legally recognized in all 50 states, couples can finally enjoy all of the benefits and protections that come with it.

This is good news for many couples who applied for Social Security before the Obergefell ruling. Take, for example, the case of Kathy Murphy, who lived in a state that did not recognize her marriage to her spouse before she passed away from cancer in 2012. Since Ms. Murphy retired early and was not allowed to collect any survivor benefits, she was forced to begin collecting her own Social Security early, which was nearly $600 less than she could have received if she had been able to delay collecting her benefits.

Thankfully, gay couples will no longer have to choose between caring for their spouse or getting the most out of their hard earned benefits. The retroactive payments will ensure that everyone is on equal footing by giving all marriages, gay or straight, the benefits they are entitled to by law.

Do you need assistance obtaining Social Security benefits on behalf of a spouse? Get in touch with a Las Vegas Social Security attorney from Shook & Stone. The Social Security system is notoriously complex, so let us do the hard work for you. Call us today for a free consultation: 702-570-0000. There is absolutely no cost to you unless we win your case!

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