HRC Blog

Rep. Linda Sanchez to Introduce Legislation to Address Discrimination in Social Security Benefits

On Friday, the Advocate reported that Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) plans to introduce a bill to provide equal benefits under Social Security to LGBT families.  All working Americans contribute to Social Security through payroll tax, but unlike married heterosexual workers, LGBT people are not able to pass along those hard-earned benefits to a same-sex partner or spouse, or sometimes even their children, when they die.  While Social Security is only designed to replace a portion of household income, this unequal treatment can result a substantial economic loss for a same-sex partner or spouse – according to the Social Security Administration, the current average benefits for a surviving spouse total more than $13,000 annually.  Social Security also provides benefits for a surviving child, but those benefits are unavailable if the deceased LGBT worker was not the biological parent nor able to adopt child through joint or second-parent adoption.  Our website has more information about the impact of marriage inequality and the federal Defense of Marriage Act on access to Social Security and other important benefits. For many years, HRC has worked with Members of Congress to educate on the denial of critical federal rights and benefits to same-sex couples, including access to Social Security benefits.  In the 109th Congress, HRC worked with Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on legislation that would extend Social Security benefits to same-sex partners.  This Congress, Rep. Nadler introduced the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), making Social Security, along with a host of other federal rights and benefits, equally available to married same-sex couples.  We look forward to working with Rep. Sanchez and other interested Members to continue to educate on the importance of equal access to Social Security safety net, as well as the myriad other important federal rights – among them filing taxes jointly, sponsoring a foreign partner to immigrate, taking unpaid leave to care for a spouse – denied to same-sex couples by DOMA.

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