This June, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a widely celebrated reversal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This change in policy now affords same-sex couples many of the same 1,138 federal spousal protections and benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples—as long as they are living in a state where same-sex marriage is recognized.
Due to the high court’s overturning of Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2008, California will now be one of twelve states to both recognize and allow same-sex marriage.
However, the landmark decision seems to have left the Social Security Administration (SSA) in a tailspin. Many advocates feel that there is too much variance, from state to state, on how the agency’s policies are implemented, and the Supreme Court decision adds an additional layer of uncertainty.
In the official Supreme Court ruling, federal agencies—including the SSA—were instructed to base claim decisions on the claimant’s state of residence, not the state in which the claimant was married.
For example, if a same-sex couple marries in New York and files for disability benefits in the same state, they would be eligible for spousal benefits. However, if they later move to Florida, a state that does not acknowledge their marriage, they will not be eligible for Social Security spousal benefits.
Critics emphasize that as far as federal benefits are concerned, a spouse should be treated as a spouse—no matter which state they reside in.
If you have questions about California disability benefits, appeals, or auxiliary benefits, contact a Chico Social Security disability lawyer. To set up a case review at no cost to you, fill out our online form or call 888-761-7383 as soon as possible.
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