Tom Daley
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Married Same-Sex Couples Can Now Access Full Federal Benefits

Married Same-Sex Couples Can Now Access Full Federal Benefits

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced today that married same-sex couples are now eligible for all federal benefits granted to legally married couples. 

Lynch confirmed to the Washington Blade that in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which brought marriage equality to all 50 states, legally married same-sex couples can now receive all federal benefits granted to married couples, including those obtained through the Social Security Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs. Social Security and VA spousal benefits had depended on a couple's state of residence recognizing their marriage, but now all states must recognize same-sex unions.

In a statement issued to the Blade, Lynch said:

"Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision in Obergefell that every couple has the same right to participate in the institution of marriage, whether the partners are of the same sex or opposite sexes, I directed Justice Department staff to work with the agencies to ensure that the ruling be given full effect across the federal government. 

"Thanks to their leadership and the quick work of the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs, today I am proud to announce that the critical programs for veterans and elderly and disabled Americans, which previously could not give effect to the marriages of couples living in states that did not recognize those marriages, will now provide federal recognition for all marriages nationwide." 

Attorney General Lynch further confirmed that the full slate of federal benefits will be available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. terriorities. Although formal memoranda have yet to be issued regarding these changes, Lynch told the Blade that her office was working with the agencies impacted to provide "guidance to implement this change in law." 

Last year, Lynch's predecessor, Eric Holder, announced that the DOJ had extended all possible benefits to same-sex couples under then-current law, noting that additional benefits could be extended by Congress. Ultimately, the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell, affirming the constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry, enacted the changes that Holder suggested Congress undertake.

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