Justice Department Decision: Same Sex Couples Eligible for Benefits

Posted September 17, 2015 by Premier Disability Services, LLC® On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court handed down a historic decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in which they granted marriage equality to same sex couples.  Following the landmark Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges, it seems that more questions have arisen than actual answers when it comes to how this decision would apply to Social Security benefits.  Recently, there have been developments that make the landscape a little clearer.

On August 21, 2015, the U.S. Justice Department stated that the Social Security Administration would apply this case retroactively.  This means that the decision would apply to individuals with pending claims who live in states that did not recognize same sex marriages.  It remains unclear as to when Social Security will implement this policy and what the exact parameters will be.  However, it seems clear from this decision that the Social Security Administration plans to now grant benefits to same-sex couples who were living in states that did not recognize their union and who had filed for Social Security benefits.

To be fair, Social Security still has a long way to go in terms of implementing the Obergefell decision into practice.  It will certainly be interesting to see how Social Security treats same sex marriages, since these unions have only been recently recognized on a nationwide scale.  Considering the recent developments in this field, couples in same sex marriages are seemingly another step closer to receiving the Social Security benefits they were previously denied.

Sources: Forbes, The New Social Security Rules for Same-Sex Couples, by Joan M. Burda;  New York Times, Gay Couples are Eligible for Social Security Benefits, U.S. Decides, by Tara Siegel Bernard.


By: Devon Brady of Premier Disability Services, LLC®