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Following DOMA Ruling, Social Security Administration Begins Processing Applications for Same-Sex Couples

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By Hook Law Center

The recent Supreme Court ruling striking down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will have widespread effects on many federal programs. It may take quite some time for the ruling to be fully implemented into law. But a recent statement from the Social Security Administration (SSA) shows some progress on that front.

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated Section 3 of DOMA, which denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. On August 9, 2013, the SSA issued a statement from Carolyn W. Colvin, acting commissioner, announcing the administration “is now processing some retirement spouse claims for same-sex couples and paying benefits where they are due.” The statement encouraged all individuals who believe they may be eligible to apply for Social Security benefits.

Most same-sex couples who are married reside either in the state in which they married or another state that recognizes their marriage. Others relocated after marrying to states that do not recognize their marriage. For now, it is only certain that the former group will be eligible for federal benefits. It remains to be seen whether those in non-recognizing states will receive equal treatment by the federal government.

President Obama weighed in following the Supreme Court ruling, saying, “It’s my personal belief – but I’m speaking now as a president as opposed to as a lawyer – that if you’ve been married in Massachusetts and you move someplace else, you’re still married, and that under federal law you should be able to obtain the benefits of any lawfully married couple.”

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Posted on Wednesday, September 18th, 2013. Filed under Estate Planning, Long-Term Care, Public Benefits, Senior Law News.