Post submitted by Delia Albert, Communications Intern.
Last week, U.S. Representative Allyson Y. Schwartz (D-PA) led 129 representatives in a letter urging the federal government to extend Social Security benefits to all married same-sex couples.
“Everyone deserves equal treatment under our nation’s laws, regardless of their sexual orientation, where they live or where they took their vows,” Schwartz said.
Since the ruling in United States v. Windsor, which struck down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which barred federal recognition of same-sex couples, the Obama Administration has begun implementing the decision throughout the federal government.
The Social Security Administration, however, has not yet addressed spousal retirement, spousal survivor and lump sum death benefits for same-sex couples that are living in states where their marriage isn’t recognized, potentially leaving thousands of gay and lesbian couples without the financial support that they have earned. It has also not determined eligibility for same-sex couples who are in civil unions and domestic partnerships.
Earlier this month, Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) and Schwartz introduced the Social Security and Marriage Equality (SAME) Act, which would guarantee that all married same-sex couples receive full Social Security spousal benefits regardless of where they live. We are thankful for their efforts to bring attention to the importance of providing these essential benefits.
For more information about how same-sex couples living in states without marriage equality are affected by a lack of access to Social Security, you can read Living Outside the Safety Net: LGBT Families and Social Security, a co-publication by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation, and HRC.