Today’s post comes from guest author Barbara Tilker, from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.
Nearly two months after the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Social Security Administration has announced that it will start to pay benefits to some individuals in same-sex marriages. In order to be eligible for benefits, these individuals must meet the same criteria as individuals in opposite-sex marriages, in addition to several other requirements.
Only applications for spousal benefits are being approved right now. Spousal benefits are payable to a spouse who either 1) did not work enough to be entitled to Social Security benefits or 2) worked enough to be entitled to Social Security benefits but would be entitled to a larger benefit on their spouse’s earnings record. This is generally the case when one spouse earned significantly more than the other spouse over the course of their working lives. The individual on whose earnings record the claim is made (the number holder, in SSA’s terms) must also be entitled to old-age or disability benefits from Social Security. In order to receive spousal benefits, you must be at least age 62 and have been married to the number holder for at least one year.
The individual applying for benefits (the claimant, in SSA’s terms) must show that he or she was married to the number holder in a state that permits same-sex marriage and that the number holder is living in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage either 1) when the application for benefits is filed or 2) while the application is pending a final determination. It does not matter what state the claimant lives in. What matters for SSA’s purposes is the state the number holder lives in. This only matters when spouses live in different states.
Below is a chart from SSA that shows which states recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, and when those states permitted same-sex marriages. If a state is not listed, it does not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states or permit same-sex marriages to be performed.
Before filing a claim for benefits or moving to a different state, you should consult with an experienced attorney or with the Social Security Administration to determine your eligibility for benefits. As SSA continues to pay benefits to more individuals in connection with the Supreme Court’s decision, we will provide updated information regarding who may be eligible for these benefits.
Date Same-Sex Marriages from Any Other State Was Recognized
Date Same-Sex Marriages Were Permitted in the State
|California||June 17, 2008 – November 4, 2008
June 26, 2013 – present
|June 17, 2008 – November 4, 2008
June 26, 2013 – present
|Connecticut||November 12, 2008||November 12, 2008|
|Delaware||July 1, 2013||July 1, 2013|
|Iowa||April 30, 2009||April 20, 2009|
|Maine||December 29, 2012||December 29, 2012|
|Maryland||February 23, 2010||January 1, 2013|
|Massachusetts||May 17, 2004||May 17, 2004|
|Minnesota||August 1, 2013||August 1, 2013|
|New Hampshire||January 1, 2010||January 1, 2010|
|New York||February 1, 2008||July 24, 2011|
|Rhode Island||May 14, 2012||August 1, 2013|
|Vermont||September 1, 2009||September 1, 2009|
|Washington||December 6, 2012||December 6, 2012|
|Washington, DC||July 7, 2009||March 9, 2010|