Monday, January 18, 2016

Social Security Benefits for Same Sex Couples

Social Security for same sex couples

In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevented same sex couples from receiving federal benefits. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting same sex marriage were unconstitutional.

Despite these two significant rulings, the Social Security Administration has been slow to adjust to the new legal climate and many same-sex couples’ claims for benefits are still pending.

While some same-sex spouses’ claims have been processed, many have had their applications rejected or inexplicably delayed for long periods of time.

In response to criticism, the Social Security Administration reported that the agency is processing claims as quickly as possible, but that it has had to update programs, create new instructions, and train their workers on changes in the rules.

One type of benefit that same sex couples have applied for as a result of the striking down of DOMA is survivor benefits. When the higher earning spouse dies before his or her spouse, then the surviving spouse may apply for survivor benefits once they are 60 years of age.

No matter the type of claim, applications for benefits with the Social Security Administration take time and require patience. Having a knowledgeable attorney guide you through the process or defend your denial on appeal can help.

Stephanie Merritt Driscoll is an attorney in Southern California whose practice focuses on Social Security disability benefits. Contact Attorney Stephanie Merritt Driscoll at 949-359-1370.