White House proposes Same-Sex Social Security Spousal Benefits

Posted on: February 16th, 2015 by Mark R. Friedman

President Obama’s 2016 budget proposes extending Social Security spousal benefits to married same-sex couples, regardless of whether same-sex marriage is recognized in the state in which they live.

Under current law, same-sex couples can only obtain spousal benefits if they live in a state that recognizes their marriage.  “This means that for a couple that marries in one state where same-sex marriage is recognized and then moves to another state where it is not, the protection that Social Security spousal benefits provides to families is unavailable,” says the budget proposal.  “Under this proposal, such married couples would have access to these benefits.”

While same-sex marriage is recognized in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and 36 other states, it remains illegal in 14 more.  Extending spousal benefits to same-sex couples in these states would provide greater financial security to thousands of Americans.

This proposal must still be approved by Congress to take effect.  However the issue could become moot soon.  The U.S. Supreme Court is set to take up same-sex marriage later this year, and if the Court approves nation-wide same-sex marriage, then presumably Social Security spousal benefits would be available to all regardless of what Congress does.

With Social Security spousal benefits, your spouse may be able to receive Social Security or a higher payment based on your work history.  Your spouse can also get survivors benefits if you pass away, which potentially includes monthly income or a lump sum.

For more information on Social Security or same-sex estate planning, call or email us today.


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