What Same-Sex Couples Need to Know



For more than 80 years, Social Security has helped secure today and tomorrow with financial benefits that support millions of Americans throughout life’s journey.

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’s programs.

Social Security now recognizes 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).

What does that mean for your same-sex couple employees?  Here are five things your employees should know about Social Security benefits for same-sex couples:

  1. Marital status is important — your same-sex couple employees can receive Social Security benefits when a worker retires, becomes disabled, or dies.   We also consider marital status when we determine eligibility and payment amount for Supplemental Security Income.
  2. What type of benefits can your employee receive —Social Security taxes pay for three kinds of benefits: retirement, disability, and survivors. If your employee is entitled to benefits, his or her spouse and eligible family members might receive benefits, too.   
  3. Children may receive benefits — your employees’ children or stepchildren could also be entitled to benefits based on their relationship to a worker.
  4. When they apply for benefits is important — if your employee is married or has entered a non-marital legal relationship, we encourage them to apply right away, even if they’re not sure they’re eligible. Applying now will protect your employee against the loss of any potential benefits.   
  5. Report life changes right away — your employee should let us know immediately if they move, marry, separate, divorce, or become the parent of a child.   Don’t wait until we review your benefits to tell us about any changes. Your employee should report changes right away so benefits are paid correctly.

For more information, please visit our website for same-sex couples. You can also read our publication What Same-Sex Couples Need to Know



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