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Disability Benefits for Same-Sex Couples

by Joe Whitcomb / January 2, 2015

At the Rocky Mountain Disability Law Group, we focus our practice on disability claims.  This means we have had the opportunity to work on a vast number of disability cases and address a wide variety of unique issues.  One question that comes up frequently in these cases regards the rights of same-sex couples. Ultimately, it all depends on certain specifics.

Rights of Same-Sex Couples

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all states and have their marriage recognized by other states. This decision made it possible for more same-sex couples and their families to benefit from Social Security programs.

According to their website, "We recognize same-sex couples’ marriages in all states, and some non-marital legal relationships (such as some civil unions and domestic partnerships), for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits, Medicare entitlement, and eligibility and payment amount for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). We also recognize same-sex marriages and some non-marital legal relationships established in foreign jurisdictions for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits, Medicare entitlement, and SSI."

This is great news and makes for a more equitable and fair America.

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Similar Policy at the VA

From the Veterans Affairs website:  "On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court held in Obergefell v. Hodges that the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state. Accordingly, VA may now recognize all same-sex marriages without regard to a Veteran’s state of residence. VA has developed guidance to process cases involving same-sex spousal benefits, and to implement necessary changes swiftly and smoothly in order to deliver the best services to all our nation's Veterans. All Veterans in same-sex marriages who believe they are entitled to benefits should therefore promptly apply for benefits. Furthermore, Veterans whose claims were previously denied based on prior guidance should re-apply for benefits."

Designate Beneficiaries

Service members may also designate beneficiaries of their choosing, regardless of sexual orientation:

In addition, there are other benefits for Service members provided by DoD for which LGBT service members may designate a beneficiary regardless of sexual orientation. You may learn about those DoD programs on the Defense Department's DADT website.

If you have questions about social security, workers’ compensation, or VA benefits or have previously been denied benefits and need assistance, contact the Whitcomb, Selinsky PC law firm or its sister firm, the Rocky Mountain Disability Law Group today.  We know the law. Please call (303) 534-1958 or contact us on this form.

Tags: Social Security Disability

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