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Social Security: What Same-Sex Couples Need to Know

September 2016 | Social Security Administration

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Marital status is important for Social Security’s retirement, survivor, and disability programs because you or your spouse could be entitled to benefits or a higher benefit amount based on the marital relationship to a worker. Children or stepchildren could also be entitled to benefits based on their relationship to a worker. For some surviving spouses, divorced spouses, and adults disabled during childhood, benefits could end if they marry.

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all States and have their marriage recognized by other States.

We now recognize same-sex couples’ marriages in all States, and some nonmarital legal relationships (such as civil unions and domestic partnerships), for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits, Medicare entitlement, and eligibility and payment amount for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments.

We also recognize same-sex marriages and some non-marital legal relationships established in foreign jurisdictions for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits, Medicare entitlement, and SSI.


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