New York Times: Social Security Opens to Survivors of Same-Sex Couples Who Could Not Marry (January 23, 2022)
This case challenged a policy that limited survivor’s benefits to married couples, discriminating against same-sex couples who were together for years, but couldn’t marry because of discriminatory marriage laws. It took years and a class-action lawsuit.
The Social Security Administration now allows gay men and lesbians to receive survivor’s benefits if they can show that they were in a committed relationship and would have married had that been possible. The change could mean greater economic protection for a population with higher poverty rates than American adults overall.
“The surviving spouses can end up with a lot more income,” said Trinh Phan, senior staff attorney at Justice in Aging. The average survivor’s benefit, the Social Security Administration reports, is $1,467 a month.