Social Security Hub

Social Security Benefits Available To All Married Same-Sex Couples In New Obama Budget


In President Obama's new $4 trillion budget submitted to Congress for approval, the administration for the first time announced it would grant social security benefits to all married same-sex couples in the U.S., regardless of whether couples live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage. The announcement comes as a major shift in policy from the White House. In the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Windsor, the Social Security Administration stated it would only grant social security benefits to same-sex couples who reside in states that recognize marriage equality. From The Huffington Post:

”This means that for a couple that marries in one state where same-sex marriage is recognized and then moves to another state where it is not, the protection that Social Security spousal benefits provides to families is unavailable," says the budget proposal, which was released Monday. "Under this proposal, such married couples would have access to these benefits.” […]

“[Obama's] proposal to ensure equal Social Security benefits would fix a crucial gap in federal protections for same-sex couples," said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry. "President Obama's leadership in helping bring the freedom to marry to all Americans will be a shining part of this president's legacy."

"Of course," he added, "the only way to ensure same-sex couples nationwide have all the protections of marriage is for the Supreme Court to put the country on the right side of history by ending marriage discrimination throughout the United States, leaving no family and no state behind."

Aging LGBT Populations Face Substantial Economic Hurdles

LgbtMuch of the coverage focusing on elderly queer-identified people highlights the ways in which they are marginalized by mainstream, youth-oriented gay culture. According to an in-depth analysis from the Associated Press however, some of the most difficult challenges facing aging members of the LGBT community are socio-economic. The combined impacts of legacy discriminatory workplace policies, the early AIDS crisis, and slow progress towards marriage equality have created a difficult economic landscape for many gay, “boomer” aged people looking to retire.

According to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, same-sex couples save about 25% less for their retirement as compared to their straight counterparts. The analysis, conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that the media amount that straight married couples was about $88,000 while same-sex partners only saved about $66,000. The cause? A lifetime of lower wages and chronic underemployment.

While many corporations have non-discrimination policies now, it is still legal to fire someone for their sexual orientation in 21 states, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Two polls, one by Pew Research in 2013 and one by Gallup in 2012, reached the same conclusion: LGBT individuals were more likely to make less money than their straight peers during their careers. Gay men earned as much as 32 percent less than straight men, according to research by the Williams Institute, a California-based think tank that focuses on LGBT issues.

As a result, gay men and women over 65 are more likely to end up in poverty. Lesbians, who face wage discrimination because of both their gender and sexual orientation, are even more vulnerable.

The economic harms inflicted upon elderly LGBT people are further compounded by a fundamental lack of attention being paid to them as a population. The Department of Health and Human Services, which monitors and surveys elderly minority populations, has yet to begin keeping track of queer people. The lack of hard data linked to the population means that funding for programs geared towards aging gays is difficult to secure.

"In the aging world, there has been little regard for even the existence of LGBT older people, let alone their particular social and financial needs," said executive director of Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders Michael Adams.

Click here to read Ken Sweet's article in full. 

For Most Gays, The Golden Years Are Looking Something Less Than Golden: VIDEO


Kathy Murphy stands to lose $600 a month because the Social Security Administration refuses to recognize her marriage to her late wife.

Murphy, who recently lost her wife to breast cancer, lives in Texas, and the SSA currently bases eligibility for spousal benefits on laws in states where same-sex couples reside.

She recently filed a lawsuit against the SSA, and now she's among the subjects of a new Associated Press video report, focusing on why gays and lesbians are woefully unprepared for retirement. 

An AP study found that the average gay couple has $66,000 saved for retirement, compared to the average straight couple's $88,000. Then there are people like 55-year-old Jim Albaugh, also featured in the report, who's a long-term HIV survivor and hasn't saved for retirement in part because he didn't think he'd be alive this long. 

"I have enough to get me through the next bad time, but that's it," Albaugh tells AP. 

A Prudential study mentioned in the report found that just 14 percent of LGBT respondents said they are well-prepared for retirement, compared to 29 percent of non-LGBT people. Although both figures are alarming, this means the golden years are looking less than golden for more than six out of every seven LGBT people.

In addition to unequal laws affecting taxes and benefits, as well as the AIDS epidemic, gays often earn less thanks to job discrimination and start families later, the AP notes. 

It's a sobering report that should serve as a reminder about the importance of programs and support for aging LGBT people, who are already facing a whole new round of discrimination when they enter retirement homes — if they can afford one.  

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP ...  

Continue reading "For Most Gays, The Golden Years Are Looking Something Less Than Golden: VIDEO" »

GLAD Sues Social Security Administration For Lesbian Widow Social Security Benefits - VIDEO

Tevyaw Baker

On Monday, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed a lawsuit on behalf of a lesbian widow seeking parity of Social Security benefits for married same-sex couples, reports Washington Blade.

The litigation was filed by GLAD in the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island on behalf of 56-year-old Deborah Tevyaw, who was denied spousal disability benefits and a lump sum death payment from the Social Security Administration (SSA).


In 2005, Tevyaw was married in Massachusetts to Patricia Baker. Baker died in 2011 following a battle against lung cancer. In her final months, she lobbied for the legalization of gay marriage in Rhode Island, testifying on the issue before the state Senate.

However, despite the legality of the marriage, Tevyaw was denied benefits upon her Baker’s death. The SSA at first asserted the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) blocked her from receiving benefits. However, even after the Supreme Court ruled Section 3 of the law was unconstitutional, the SSA allegedly continued to deny Tevyaw benefits on the basis that Rhode Island wouldn’t have recognized her marriage at the time of Baker’s death.

Tevyaw has since been living on a monthly income of $732 and was forced to sell her home she owned for more than 38 years because she can’t afford the mortgage.

In a statement, Tevyaw said:

“I’ve lost my wife and my best friend, and Social Security has made that so much worse by telling me that in their eyes, I was not Pat’s wife. Not only is that hurtful and insulting, it has meant that I am living in poverty. I am not looking for a handout; this is money that Pat earned through hard work.”

The lawsuit also notes Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chaffee’s executive order on May 24, 2012 recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages and contends the directive should apply to Tevyaw’s marriage even though Chaffee signed it before Baker’s death.

SSA spokesperson William “BJ” Jarrett said the agency agrees the issue behind the lawsuit “deserves additional consideration. He added that the SSA plans to review its policy manuals based on analysis of Rhode Island state common law.

Watch a 2012 interview with Tevyaw and Baker, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "GLAD Sues Social Security Administration For Lesbian Widow Social Security Benefits - VIDEO" »

Friday Speed Read: Mississippi, Mozilla, Social Security, Colorado, Marriage Equality

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service


Republican Governor Phil Bryant signed the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act Thursday, saying it “will protect the individual religious freedom of Mississippians of all faiths from government interference.” The ACLU says the law, though less problematic than in its original form, “could still open the door for someone who wants to use their religion to discriminate against others.” “We remain hopeful that courts throughout the state will reject any attempts to use religion to justify discrimination.” The law takes effect July 1.


The Mozilla software company that operates the Firefox browser issued an apology Thursday for failing to “move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started.” The controversy centered around Mozilla’s new CEO Brenden Eich, who gave a $1,000 contribution in support of Proposition 8 in California. Some staff and board members objected when Eich was named CEO on March 24, and that protest quickly spread to outsiders. The Mozilla statement issued yesterday said Eich “has chosen to step down from his role as CEO…. for Mozilla and our community.” GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis said, “Mozilla’s strong statement in favor of equality today reflects where corporate America is: inclusive, safe, and welcoming to all."


The Social Security Administration continued its rollout yesterday of new regulations affecting same-sex couples, in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision last June to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. The Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that the SSA is now able to process requests “for certain eligible people in same-sex marriages” for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). For details, see HHS website.


The Williams Institute, an LGBT research think tank based at UCLA, released a report Thursday showing that the state of Colorado’s economy stands to gain millions from legalizing marriage for same-sex couples. The calculation is based on taking the Census data estimate of how many same-sex couples live in Colorado (12,424), anticipating half will want to marry within the first few years they are able to in the state, and presuming same-sex couples will spend less than one-fourth the $26,000 straight couples do on weddings in Colorado. These couples and their guests would spend an estimated $50 million during those first three years, supporting 436 jobs.


A new book out by lawyer-activist Scott Squillace offers practical considerations for couples contemplating marriage. Much of the advice would apply whether the couples are straight or gay: such as how couples with disparate incomes might result in lower taxes while those where both earn high incomes might pay higher taxes if married. But for same-sex couples specifically, the book examines which federal agencies have limited marriage-related benefits for couples living in marriage equality states and which have yet to publish post-Windsor regulations regarding such matters. The self-published book is available through

Lesbian Parents Not Recognized As Married, Son Denied Social Security Benefits: VIDEO

Lisa and Melody Rawson and son

Lisa and Melody Rawson of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina have an adopted son who suffers from multiple medical conditions, including spina bifida. When they were living in New York they received a monthly $600 social security check to cover the cost of his medical expenses. However, the New York winters were too harsh for him so this past September they moved to South Carolina, at which point they promptly stopped receiving any benefits at all.

The reason? South Carolina's state computer system won't allow Lisa and Melody to both be listed as his parents. As a result the paperwork cannot be processed, so their son's medical benefits are denied by default. The Rawsons have tried contacting Social Security, the Justice Department, and Congress but allege being given the runaround.

You can see a video interview with the Rawsons AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Lesbian Parents Not Recognized As Married, Son Denied Social Security Benefits: VIDEO" »


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