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Social Security Administration opens benefits to same-sex couples

One of the major social developments of the past couple of years has been the advancement of gay and lesbian rights; specifically in regards to marriage. The Supreme Court of the United States recently struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, granting same-sex couples the right to marry. There are 13 states (one of which is our home state of Maryland) plus the District of Colombia that formally recognize same-sex marriage and all of the benefits that relationship entails.

And in that regard, the Social Security Administration made a major announcement recently: same-sex couples can now earn Social Security benefits just like any other married couple.

The acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Carolyn Colvin, made the announcement a couple of weeks ago. Same-sex couples needed to apply for the benefits during a special window over the past couple of weeks, with a deadline of Aug. 26 to make any Social Security alterations. However, if a same-sex couple missed the deadline, they do not have to worry too much. The Social Security window will open up for everyone in November, giving same-sex couples the chance to get in on the program then.

While this is a tremendous step for same-sex couples and though they are certainly celebrating this move, the future is still a bit uncertain. Like with any new process, mistakes will be made, may they be clerical or purely out of human error. Same-sex couples may be wrongfully denied a Social Security claim due to the special nature of this Aug. 26 deadline, or in the future when registration is fully open. Those who think they have a successful appeal waiting in the wings should consult an experienced attorney to help them with their case.

Source: Washington Post, "Social Security Administration now processing same-sex marriage benefit claims," Eric Yoder, Aug. 12, 2013

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