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Social Security Administration issues same-sex benefits

Same-sex spouses soon will see Social Security benefit checks in the mailbox, according to acting commissioner of Social Security Carolyn W. Colvin.

The Supreme Court’s June decision in the U.S. v. Windsor determined a same-sex spouse was, in fact, entitled to death benefits from her deceased spouse. The ruling cleared the way for federal recognition of marriage equality in the 13 states that recognize same-sex marriage. Various federal agencies still await guidance on processing the myriad benefit claims to these legally married couples.

“I am pleased to announce that Social Security is now processing some retirement spouse claims for same-sex couples and paying benefits where they are due,” said Colvin in a press release. “The recent Supreme Court decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, made just over a month ago, helps to ensure that all Americans are treated fairly and equally, with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

The announcement came on Aug. 9, the same day the Department of Labor announced same-sex partners were eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act, again only in the 13 states that recognize gay marriage.

Colvin noted that her department would work closely with the Department of Justice to develop and implement post-Windsor public policy.

“I encourage individuals who believe they may be eligible for Social Security benefits to apply now, to protect against the loss of any potential benefits,” Colvin said. “We will process claims as soon as additional instructions become finalized.”

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