Social Security Benefits for Same Sex Spouses to Change

Posted on Aug 04, 2015

The Supreme Court's recent decision recognizing same-sex marriage will change how Social Security determines eligibility. Up until the date of the ruling, the Social Security Administration relied on State legislation and court decisions to determine whether it would recognize a same-sex marriage. That has changed since the Supreme Court ruling that requires all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Here are a few considerations before same-sex spouses looking at Social Security disability benefits:

  • Social Security is looking for guidance on how to address children of a same-sex married couple. Traditionally, a child born to a married couple was considered the child of both parents. This is relevant because Social Security will provide dependent benefits to the child of a disabled individual in many cases.
  • Social Security is also looking at how same-sex marriages affect SSI eligibility. Traditionally, SSI will consider a spouse's income in determining a disabled individual's monthly income and whether they are eligible for SSI benefits.
  • If an individual married to a same-sex partner had applied for Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, he or she may have been treated as unmarried, and as a result, not eligible. A new application is certainly something to consider.
  • If there is any doubt, a same-sex  spouse should apply as soon as possible. Waiting even a month will possibly result in the loss of benefits.
  • Several benefits may be available, including enhanced Social Security benefits based on a spouse's or a deceased spouse's earnings, Medicaid coverage for nursing home expenses, and Social Security survivor benefits.

This is a new frontier and the Social Security disability arena, and if you have questions about whether you are eligible for benefits, contact us at 503-325-8600. We can help you learn how this new ruling may affect your eligibility for benefits.