En español | Under Social Security’s current rules, legally married same-sex couples can get spousal benefits only if they live in one of the 13 states (plus Washington, D.C.) that recognizes those marriages. They may also be eligible if they live in a state that recognizes civil unions or domestic partnerships and grants those partners inheritance rights if one of the partners dies without a will. Couples living in most foreign countries may also be eligible, because Washington, D.C.’s marriage-equality law applies to the determination of benefits.
The Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are both working to update their rules to grant same-sex married couples federal tax, Medicare and Medicaid rights, regardless of their state of residence. Some experts expect the Social Security Administration to follow suit.
Experts advise retired same-sex couples living in non-recognition states to still file for benefits, to establish the date of their request. In states that don't recognize same-sex marriages, you'll be denied. But if the law changes, couples could petition for back benefits based on their claiming date.
February 5, 2014
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