Obergefell v. Hodges and Federal Benefits
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all states. This decision has far-reaching effects for both Social Security benefits and VA benefits.
Obergefell and Social Security
For applicants for Social Security benefits, constitutional recognition of same-sex marriage can affect entitlement to multiple types of benefits, including survivor's benefits, retirement benefits, widow(er)'s disability benefits, and other various auxiliary benefits. If you are a spouse, divorced spouse, or surviving spouse of a same-sex marriage or non-marital legal same-sex relationship, you should apply as soon as possible for benefits.
Social Security's reaction to Obergefell builds on their reaction to U.S. v. Windsor. Effective June 26, 2015, SSA put into effect an emergency message regarding the handling of claims regarding same-sex spouses. Unfortunately, SSA is still working with the Department of Justice to develop appropriate processing instructions. The main thing, however, is to APPLY NOW if you feel that you might be eligible for benefits as a result of Obergefell v. Hodges.
Obergefell and VA
Much like Social Security, the holding in Obergefell impacted benefits issued by the Veterans Administration. On Monday, June 29, 2015, the VA issued a statement acknowledging that it would recognize the same-sex marriage of all Veterans, where the Veteran or the Veteran's spouse resided anywhere in the United States or its territories at the time of the marriage or at the time of application for benefits.
If you are a same-sex spouse or widow(er) who has questions about potential Social Security or Veterans benefits, please contact one of the experienced attorneys at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. today. We have been helping the disabled throughout the Gulf Coast including Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana for decades and would love to help you too.