Social Security begins processing retirement claims for same-sex spouses


WASHINGTON — The Social Security Administration (SSA) said Friday it has begun processing, and paying, some retirement spouse claims for married, same-sex couples.

But the SSA also noted that it is limiting payment of claims only to those married in a state that permits same-sex marriage, and who are living in a state that recognizes same sex-marriage.

Couples who were married in one of the 13 states (or District of Columbia) where same-sex marriage is legal, but reside in another state, will have their claims held until the agency makes a final decision in their case, or obtains more guidance from the Justice Department.

The agency’s action comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that that blocked federal recognition of same-sex marriages, leading to couples being denied federal benefits.

Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, said in a statement that in the coming weeks and months, the SSA “will develop and implement additional policy and processing instructions” as it works with the Justice Department to implement changes resulting from the ruling.

“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. We will process claims as soon as additional instructions become finalized,” Colvin said.

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