Learn more about how same-sex spouses and LT partners can benefit from SS Administration changes
Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to consider an appeal in the case of Bostic v. Rainey on October 6, 2014, same sex marriage has been legal in Virginia. This, of course, was an important step in the search for full equality for LGBT couples, but the federal government is still in the process of granting full rights to same-sex married and non-married couples across the country.
On Wednesday, March 25, the Gay Community Center of Richmond will host a Community Conversation titled “Social Security and Same Sex Marriage – Learn How To Maximize Your Benefits.”
From 7:00 to 8:30 PM in the GCCR’s Community Classroom, the free event will educate all who come about the legal developments since this ruling, and how same-sex married and non-married legal couples could be eligible to receive benefits from the government.
This event will be sponsored by SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) and will be presented by Dr. Kelly A. Decker, a certified financial services professional and a member of Richmond’s FERN (Financial Education Resources Network), which frequently provides free financial educational workshops to the community.
On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled Section 3 of DOMA, or the Defense of Marriage Act, unconstitutional. Previously, this law allowed the federal government to deny federal benefits to same-sex couples, even if those couples are legally married in their home state. Since this ruling, however, it is illegal for the government to deny federal protections like Social Security, veteran’s benefits, health insurance, and retirement savings to married LGBT couples.
There have been more developments since the original 2013 ruling, and recently, Social Security has published new instructions that allow the agency to process new kinds of claims from LGBT couples seeking eligibility to receive federal entitlements for married couples. At the workshop, Dr. Decker will be explaining how these changes in the policy will allow the government to recognize some non-marital legal relationships as marriages for determining entitlement to benefits, and how the government will even be able to process Social Security claims from couples in states that do not yet recognize same-sex marriages or non-marital legal relationships.
Dr. Decker says her and FERN have been consulting with the Department of Justice, and are working to find out all the ways in which same-sex married couples in Virginia could be affected by these legal changes, and how the Social Security Act could be subject to state laws for couples in other parts of the country. The new policy also addresses Supplemental Security Income claims based on same-sex relationships, and Decker will also address how the married status of same-sex couples may affect their SSI eligibility or payment amount.
More information about Social Security eligibility for same-sex couples can be found at the Social Security Administration Website
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