Social Security Paying Survivor Benefits to Married Gay, Lesbian Couples

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com December 16 2013 5:08 PM ET

Married gay and lesbian Americans whose same-sex spouse has recently died are now eligible to collect that late spouse's social security survivor benefits, according to an announcement today from the Social Security Administration.

"I am pleased to announce that, effective today, Social Security is processing some widow’s and widower’s claims by surviving members of same-sex marriages and paying benefits where they are due," said acting commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin in a statement. "In addition, we are able to pay some one-time lump sum death benefit claims to surviving same-sex spouses. As I stated shortly after the Supreme Court decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, our goal is to treat all Americans with dignity and respect."

Colvin encouraged anyone who believes they might be eligible to receive a late spouse's Social Security benefits to apply immediately for access to those benefits, and she directed those with questions to visit the Social Security Administration's information page for same-sex couples. Today's announcement follows a similar one Colvin made in August noting that the administration was paying some retirement benefits to legally married same-sex couples as it worked to bring its division into full compliance with the change in laws following June's landmark rulings at the Supreme Court. 

The Internal Revenue Service also issued new guidance today surrounding greater tax equity for married same-sex couples who were previously unable to list a spouse on their employer's insurance plan. See that latest notice here.