By Vonda Van Til, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
June is Pride Month. It’s a time to acknowledge the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community, and also celebrate diversity, love, and respect. On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all states.
We recognize same-sex couples’ marriages in all states, and some non-marital legal relationships (such as some civil unions and domestic partnerships). This recognition is important todetermine entitlement to benefits.
Here are five things you should know about our benefits for same-sex couples:
• Marital status is important — A member of a same-sex couple may be entitled to Social Security benefits when a working spouse retires, becomes disabled, or dies. We also consider marital status when we determine eligibility and payment amount for Supplemental Security Income.
• What type of benefits you can receive — Social Security taxes pay for three kinds of benefits: retirement, disability, and survivors. If you’re entitled to benefits, your spouse and eligible family members might receive benefits, too.
• Children may receive benefits — Your children or stepchildren could also be entitled to benefits.
• When you apply for benefits is important — If you’re married or have entered a non-marital legal relationship, we encourage you to apply right away, even if you’re not sure you’re eligible. Applying now may protect you against the loss of any potential benefits.
• Report life changes right away — You should let us know immediately if you move, marry, separate, divorce, or become the parent of a child. Don’t wait until we review your benefits to tell us about any changes. You should report changes right away so benefits are paid correctly.
For more information, please visit our website for same-sex couples at www.ssa.gov/people/same-sexcouples. You can also read our publication What Same-Sex Couples Need to Know at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10014.pdf.
Vonda Van Til is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.