Most people in New Jersey know by now that the Supreme Court ruled in June that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. Over the last few months, the various branches of the federal government have worked to adjust to the ruling. Although it has taken some time, the Social Security Administration is now taking same-sex marriages into account when determining benefits for some individuals.
Most relevant to our blog is the fact that the SSA will begin considering same-sex marriages in regards to Supplemental Security Income. This means that anyone applying for Supplemental Security Income or anyone who is receiving Supplemental Security Income can report their legal marriage to their Social Security office to have it factored into their benefits.
Filing for SSI as a married, separated or divorced person can affect the amount you are awarded in benefits. When determining whether an applicant for SSI is eligible -- and for how much -- the SSA will consider the resources that person has or has access to. Because Social Security takes into account the financial resources of some of the people associated with the applicant -- such as parents or a spouse -- filing as married could result in lower benefits if your spouse is making a decent income that can support you to some extent.
If you are filing for SSI as a married individual, or if you are reporting a change in marital status to Social Security after the recognition of same-sex marriage, it may be beneficial to talk to an attorney first. Understanding how your marital status will affect your specific situation is important before you apply for benefits.
Source: Social Security, "Important Information for Same-Sex Couples," Feb. 12, 2014Social Security, "Understanding Supplemental Security Income SSI Resources -- 2013 Edition," Feb. 12, 2014