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Same-Sex Marriage & Social Security

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.

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