The last year has proved to be monumental in expanding same-sex marriage rights across the country. During this time, Illinois was among the states that adopted this policy. This, of course, has had an impact on many families throughout the state.
While states were handling changes in marriage laws, the federal government was also active. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a major component of the Defense of Marriage Act. As a result, federal agencies, including the Social Security Administration, began to make accommodations for legally married same-sex couples.
Not long ago, current Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin announced a new set of rules for same-sex couples who apply for Supplemental Security Income benefits. This particular program, like Social Security disability insurance, is overseen by the SSA.
The new rules allow SSI benefit claims involving married same-sex couples to be processed as they would for other married individuals. Eligibility for SSI is based on an individual’s or married couple’s income. If a certain income threshold is surpassed, SSI claims can be denied. Spousal income will now be considered when a married LGBT person applies for coverage under this program.
Colvin indicated that the revisions are part of the SSA’s commitment to treat all applicants “fairly.” Ultimately, however, the hope is that this will not jeopardize claims for those who need the financial security of SSI.
Of course, the recent changes do not fundamentally change the ideas behind SSI benefits. Rather, it’s important for Illinois residents to understand how changes on a federal level could impact the way they submit a claim for disability benefits.
Source: LGBTWeekly.com, “Social Security publishes new Supplemental Security Income rules involving same-sex married couples,” Feb. 3, 2014