Gay couples fight for disability benefits

On behalf of J.B. Bieske, Attorney at Law posted in Social Security Disability on Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A congresswoman has introduced legislation that would allow married same-sex couples living in Michigan and around the United States to gain access to Social Security disability and other benefits.

Currently, the Social Security Administration does not pay benefits to gay couples, but the passage of this bill could be a start. As it stands, same-sex couples are ineligible to receive disability benefits if one spouse suffers a disability, survivor benefits, spousal retirement benefits after one of the spouses dies, or a payout for burial costs in case of death.

During a news conference held in Washington, D.C., Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez said her bill is a vital piece of legislation for gay couples. She said that since homosexuals pay the same amounts into the Social Security system as everyone else, the benefits should equal out.

According to Sanchez, gay male couples receive 18 percent less in benefits than do heterosexual couples, with lesbian couples taking in 31 percent less.

Illness and death can strike anyone without regard to sexual orientation, and disability or other benefits could mean the difference between financial security and ruin, one activist said.

An older woman said she had to move out of her house after her spouse’s death. Although legally married, she was denied survivor benefits. The couple had been together for 45 years and each had paid into the Social Security system for 50-plus years.

Social Security frequently denies disability benefits to members of traditional couples, as well. An attorney experienced in working with the agency and the courts could provide assistance in those cases. Many people are often denied benefits multiple times before finally getting approved.

Source: Washington Blade, “Hollywood comes to Capitol Hill to push for Social Security bill,” Chris Johnson, April 27, 2012

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