What Same-Sex Couples Need to Know

two women and a baby playing blocksFor more than 80 years, Social Security has helped secure today and tomorrow for many Americans.

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.

Social Security recognizes same-sex couples’ marriages in all states, and some non-marital legal relationships (such as some  civil unions and domestic partnerships), for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits, Medicare entitlement, and eligibility and payment amount for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Here are five things you should know about our benefits for same-sex couples:

  1. Marital status is important — same-sex couple can receive Social Security benefits when a worker retires, becomes disabled, or dies. We also consider marital status when we determine eligibility and payment amount for Supplemental Security Income.
  2. What type of benefits can you 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.
  3. Children may receive benefits — your children or stepchildren could also be entitled to benefits.
  4. 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 will protect you against the loss of any potential benefits.
  5. 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. You can also read our publication What Same-Sex Couples Need to Know.

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21 thoughts on “What Same-Sex Couples Need to Know

      • Yes i can help you understand.it’s mean.GOD can speak for the he’s people because we the people.not the government.in GOD we trust.

        • You’re still not making any sense, Lesly. Whose god are you talking about? And what does this have to do with article?

          • Our blog — Social Security Matters — gives readers information about a variety of topics, including our programs, online services, current events, and human-interest stories, usually in greater detail than typically shared on our other social media platforms. Our blog encourages discussion and offers important retirement and disability-related solutions. Please be aware that our official agency responses will always include the Social Security Administration (SSA) seal, and that we have an official social media team dedicated to posting messages and responses to customer inquiries or comments that specifically address SSA issues. While we welcome general participation from all of our followers, we ask all participants to please be considerate and polite to others when posting comments. Thank you for your support and for using our blog.

        • Your comment reads loud and clear …you obviously are ill educatated and need to keep quite..especially if you cant proof read!

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this posting. I will spread the word to friends and relatives that Social Security is on our side.

    • Yes my friend i am who i am.human come first.not ssa we in the same boat on hearth my friend.may God blessing all.

  2. survivors benefits..yeah …they forget to tell you . …you have to be married for 9 months .. plus they make you feel like you are the lowest piece of dirt on the earth for even thinking you may qualify….and if you try to use the common law marriage rule ..good luck ..there are more loopholes than a piece of swiss cheese and they will try their best to shoot you down…Part of all our social security witholdings are set aside JUST for survivor’s benefits…just don’t expect to get them if you are a new widow……never so frustrated in my life and then just angry..why should anyone grieving have to go through more …At 60 years of age …you most definitely are not to be considered a gold digger…and this is not a moral issue…

    • The moral issue is that most states ditched common-law rules were overridden by legal marriage requirements about the time automobiles became popular. If you live in a verbal culture where you ask the wrong people for advice because you trust them, you may be significantly out-of-touch with the law. I am sorry you made assumptions, but a federal agency must follow CURRENT state law unless federal law takes precedence.

  3. Why does`nt civil unions and domestic partnerships apply to straight couples? It sure would help me if it did.I lived with my husband 14 years and had a child by him,but we were only married 7 of the 14 years so I can`t draw off his SSA.

    • Hi Dale. In cases where a common-law marriage may be involved, Social Security follows the state laws. So, check the laws in your state. If you have additional questions about your situation, please contact us at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Or visit your local Social security office. Thanks.

  4. Instead of this lengthy article, the writer could have simply said “The benefits from same sex couples are identical to the benefits for heterosexual couples.”

  5. California has two types of marriage licenses, regular and “Confidential.” The Confidential license is a confidential license, i.e. not for publication. The Confidential license is a recognition of “common law marriages” in California. The history of the Confidential Marriage License was to legitimize existing common law marriages because the parties could not easily get to a justice-of-the-peace before children starting to be born from the marriage. Therefore the SSA will recognize and honor California common-law marriages existing before the date on the Confidential marriage license.

    Please note, SSA cherry-picks which terms of a state marriage law it wants to follow or honor. For instance, SSA does NOT follow or honor the “community property” term of state marriage laws when implementing SSA “half-support” requirements. Women – you will not be rewarded by SSA for earning more than 50% of husband (Gov Pension Offset).

  6. To understand their consequences will have a hard time at school because their peers will make fun of them for having parents of the same sex, but the parents may not seem to care.

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