Social Security Now Processing Retirement Claims from Same-Sex Couples
Today another piece of the wall separating American LGBT couples from full equality was chipped away when the Social Security Administration announced that it has started processing retirement claims for same-sex couples.
A statement released today by the SSA from acting commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin says "I am pleased to announce that Social Security is now processing some retirement spouse claims for same-sex couples and paying benefits where they are due. The recent Supreme Court decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, made just over a month ago, helps to ensure that all Americans are treated fairly and equally, with the dignity and respect they deserve."
Although this is good news for thousands of same-sex couples seeking benefits equal to their heterosexual counterparts, it is still unclear if all benefits will immediately apply, and if all couples will be eligible. The memo goes on to state, "We continue to work closely with the Department of Justice. In the coming weeks and months, we will develop and implement additional policy and processing instructions. We appreciate the public’s patience as we work through the legal issues to ensure that our policy is legally sound and clear."
The announcement today by the SSA follows announcements of policy change made by other government agencies regarding benefits in the wake of the landmark Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act in June.
Days after the landmark SCOTUS decision on Windsor v United States, the Department of Homeland Security announced that same-sex couples were eligible for green cards. Shortly after that announcement, the White House sent a memo stating that equal benefits would be extended to married same-sex partners of federal employees. Last month, the House of Representatives announced it would no longer defend a law limiting military spousal benefits solely to heterosexual couples.