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U.S. Senate

Bill introduced to ensure Social Security equality for same-sex spouses

Thursday, May 8, 2014
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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) on Thursday introduced a bill to provide married, same-sex couples with equal treatment under the Social Security Act when applying for Social Security benefits, regardless of where they reside.

Social-SecurityCurrently, eligibility for spousal benefits provided under the Social Security Act are determined based on location of residence. That standard has resulted in applications for Social Security benefits for legally married same-sex spouses living in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage being placed on hold.

Under “The Social Security and Marriage Equality (SAME) Act of 2014,” eligibility would be determined by “place of celebration,” which would recognize any legal marriage that takes place in a jurisdiction where same-sex marriages are legal.

“The current delay of survivor benefits claims by the Social Security Administration not only places an unfair economic burden on legally married same-sex couples, but an extremely emotional one as well,” said Murray, in a statement.

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“Your zip code should not determine whether or not your family will have the means to survive after the death of a spouse. While I believe the Social Security Administration can, and should, resolve this inconsistency through administrative action, the SAME Act would provide a roadmap to ensure equality under our federal laws do not end at state lines,” she said.

Udall noted that it’s been almost one year since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

“There’s no excuse for the federal government to continue withholding certain federal benefits from legally married same-sex couples,” said Udall. “Marriages don’t end when couples cross state lines, and neither should the federal benefits they have earned.”

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