Retirement, Special Events, SSI

What Same-Sex Couples Need to Know

June 8, 2017 • By

Last Updated: March 17, 2021

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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Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

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