When Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004, Connecticut in 2008 and Rhode Island in 2013, and the U.S. Supreme Court overturned part of the Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013, it opened the door for a slew of questions regarding the legal benefits associated with marriage, disability benefits being one of them.
If you are a disabled person or the spouse of a disabled person and you are in a same-sex marriage, the following provides a guideline for what you need to know about disability benefits.
Types of Disability Benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two types of disability programs available. The first is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), intended for those who are insured under Social Security by having made contributions to Social Security through taxes.
The second type of disability program is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This program is intended for those who are disabled and have limited income and resources. Both types of programs provide cash benefits to individuals with disabilities and typically provide access to health care.
Both programs may be affected by evolving legality and recognition of same-sex marriages.
Same-Sex Marriage and SSDI
SSDI is intended for adults who are working or have worked throughout their lives and provides a number of benefits to any dependents or survivors. Because same-sex marriage is legal in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the benefits of SSDI will apply as they would to a marriage between a man and a woman for those living in either state.
Similarly, a disabled spouse may apply for disability benefits based on a same-sex spouse’s earnings record, just as heterosexual couples may do the same.
Same-Sex Marriage and SSI
The Social Security Administration has begun to process SSI claims for same-sex couples. Being married could affect qualification for SSI as well as the amount of benefits that the disabled person receives. For example, a person receiving SSI may have qualified because of his or her own low income and resources, but if the SSA counts a same-sex spouse’s income and resources, the disabled person no longer may qualify. Addition of a same-sex spouse’s income and resources may reduce the monthly benefit amount.
What if my state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage?
We assist clients in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, all of which allow same-sex marriage. But even if you’re in a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, the SSA encourages you to apply even if you are unsure whether you qualify. You can discuss this in greater detail with your attorney.
Rob Levine & Associates Can Help Pursue Disability Benefits
If you need to file a claim for disability benefits, Rob Levine & Associates can help. We can help you gather all of the paperwork you’ll need, provide more information about what types of benefits you and your spouse may be eligible to recover, and can guide you through the process of filing a claim. To set up a free case consultation with Rob Levine, the Heavy Hitter ®, call us today at 1-866-LAW-SSDI (529-7724).