Social Security Starts Paying Benefits to Gay Widows and Widowers

Okay, there will probably be no rejoicing because the benefit requires somebody to die.Rejoice, libertarians, in the
expansion of a federal benefit program!

Sorry, couldn’t resist presenting it that way because it makes
some folks gnash their teeth. The Supreme Court ruling in
Windsor v. United States earlier this year requires the
federal government to recognize same-sex marriages in states where
it’s been legalized. As a result, federal benefits extended on the
basis of marital status now apply to many gay couples as well. This
week, the Social Security Administration announced it has begun
paying survivor benefits to qualifying widows and widowers.

Courtesy of AlJazeera America

“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,” said Carolyn Colvin, the acting commissioner of Social
Security, in a statement.

“In addition, we are able to pay some one-time lump sum death
benefit claims to surviving same-sex spouses,” said Colvin. “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.”

Anyone who was married to their partner at the time he or she
died, or anyone who was legally married for at least 10 years but
later divorced, is eligible for Social Security benefits.

But Social Security uses a state’s definition of marriage to
determine eligibility. Consequently, a couple that married in a
state where gay marriage is legal, but lives in a state that does
not recognize their marriage, would not be considered married under
current rules.

I know there are many libertarians who are frustrated that
recognizing same-sex marriages has the additional impact of getting
the federal government more involved in more people’s private lives
rather than less, but that’s a completely separate fight. By all
means, let’s work on unwinding these various tax-based benefits and
burdens from marital status and legal recognition of private
relationships. In the meantime, though, gays aren’t exempt from
paying Social Security, so their relationships should get the same

from Hit & Run

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