As you know many federal agencies started to change regulations or rules or procedures after the Windsor case, when the Supreme Court struck down part of DOMA a few years back.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) had already been telling couples, at least those married in states that permitted marriage, to apply for benefits if they wished, and even encouraged those wed, but living in “non recognition states” to also at least apply for benefits. However, it was not certain just how the SSA would treat same sex married couples after the Obergefell case decided late this June. Reading tea leaves is always a bit dicey, but it looks like good news given a reported status conference in a case yesterday.
According to a press release from Lambda Legal, yesterday: “. . .in a status conference with Lambda Legal in federal court in Chicago, the Department of Justice announced that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will apply the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent landmark marriage ruling retroactively and process pending spousal benefits claims for same-sex couples who lived in states that did not previously recognize their marriages. According to the Department of Justice, the new policy will apply to previously filed claims still pending in the administrative process or litigation. The expected policy change follows the Supreme Court’s June decision striking down marriage bans across the country.”
The SSA will need to flesh this out further, but for those wondering what the system might look like for same sex married couples going forward, this seems to signal their intent. To see the actual press release you can go here: http://www.lambdalegal.org/news/us_20150820_ssa-apply-obergefell-retroactively-spousal-benefits
And if you need help figuring out how things like this will affect your own same sex union, married or unmarried, or if you are contemplating a same sex marriage now, feel free to contact us.
Same sex couples should make sure their estate plans are up to date. But they should also consider various public benefits and entitlements, the way in which they hold property, and so on. Older GLBT couples who have not married might even want to think about the possibility of Medicaid in their future to help with long term care costs like a nursing home–would an application be easier, or harder, if married?
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