Social Security Administration Initiates Processing of Widow and Widower Benefits to Surviving Gay Spouses

Statement of Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, released the following statement this morning:

Ssa"I am pleased to announce that, effective today, Social Security is processing some widow’s and widower’s claims by surviving members of same-sex marriages and paying benefits where they are due. In addition, we are able to pay some one-time lump sum death benefit claims to surviving same-sex spouses. As I stated shortly after the Supreme Court decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, our goal is to treat all Americans with dignity and respect.

We ask for continued patience from the public as we work closely with the Department of Justice to develop policies that are legally sound so we can process claims.

If you believe you may be eligible for Social Security, I encourage you to apply now to protect against the loss of any potential benefits. We will process claims as soon as additional instructions become finalized."

Learn more here.


  1. DC Insider says

    It appears that couples who married in Massachusetts (or Canada) before the date in which their home state (domicile) permitted marriage, and if one who dies later, then SSA will deny survivor benefits to the surviving spouse a the marriage was not valid in the domicile state at the time of the marriage.

    I hope I’m reading this incorrectly.

  2. andrew says

    This is good news. It is yet another reason to elect Democratic Presidents who appoint men and women, who are committed to equality for all Americans to government positions. It is equally important to elect Democrats to the U.S. Senate. The Senate has the power to approve or reject many Presidential appointments.

  3. MickleSt says

    My elderly widower friend has been trying to get a clear answer from SS since June. He was only able to be married to his husband for five months before the husband’s death. They were together nearly 60 years, but marriage was only legal in New York for a month when they tied the knot. According to SS rules, he may be denied benefits because there’s a nine-months-of-marriage minimum befor benefits kick in. Hope they make an exception in cases like this. But I’m not holding my breath.

  4. DBW says

    Micklest- I am in the same boat as your friend. I was w/ my partner 21 yrs, but only recently got married following Supreme Court ruling. Husband died 2 months after marriage tho, from cancer. Has there been any resolution on your friend’s case? Would appreciate an update if you have any. Thanks.