Same-Sex Couples Face Challenges Related to Social Security
As with the passing of any new law, many government-supported systems have been in a state of transition since the Supreme Court ruling in 2015 allowing same-sex marriage in all U.S. states. Social Security claiming rules have been adjusted to account for this new law, but there’s a lot to consider. Social Security expert Mary Beth Franklin explains these new claiming rules in the article below.
When is a marriage a marriage? In the case of same-sex couples, it can be complicated, particularly if their union pre-dates the nationwide recognition of gay marriage.
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 and have their marriage recognized by other states. This decision made it possible for same-sex couples and their families to take advantage of a variety of Social Security benefits.
But to claim Social Security benefits as a spouse, surviving spouse or ex-spouse, there are minimum length of marriage requirements that apply to both heterosexual and same-sex couples. Each type of benefit has a different timeline.
To claim benefits on a spouse’s earnings record, the couple must be married at least 12 months and both spouses must be at least 62 years old. However, a spouse of any age who is caring for worker’s child who is under age 16 or a worker’s disabled child of any age may claim benefits once the worker claims Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
To claim benefits as a surviving spouse, the couple must have been married at least nine months and at time of death.
And to claim benefits as an ex-spouse, the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years before the divorce, both ex-spouses must be at least 62 years old and the person claiming spousal benefits on the other’s work history must be single.