With New York being one of the 17 states along with Washington D.C. that recognize same-sex marriage, gay New Yorkers have enjoyed equality not recognized by 33 other states where same-sex marriage is still illegal and invalidated in the eyes of state and local law.
Since the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June 2013, federal benefits such as Social Security pensions and widower benefits have been extended to same-sex couples married in a state where such marriages are valid. Same-sex couples applying for or receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) must also inform the Social Security Administration (SSA) that they are married, as this might affect SSI benefits.
A memorandum issued on February 10, 2014 from Attorney General Eric Holder has instructed the Justice Department to practice this same non-discrimination policy regardless of the state’s stance on same-sex marriage.
Equal Rights to Benefits for Same-Sex Couples
Spouses and children are often entitled to ‘auxiliary’ benefits when the disabled spouse receives Social Security Disability. Attorney Brian Mittman is proud to help all persons regardless of sexual orientation or marital status obtain the federal benefits to which they are entitled.
He says, “Allowing same-sex partners to receive the same benefit is a logical and needed extension of the Social Security law that will achieve one of its greatest purposes – helping those disabled from working maintain a basic standard of living while learning to adapt to their condition.”
Discrimination in the workplace and by medical personnel are two of the major challenges to same-sex couples seeking Social Security or workers’ compensation benefits. Prior to the repeal of DOMA, the same-sex spouse of an injured worker or a disabled individual could legally be denied spousal benefits. With the action of the Supreme Court on DOMA and the support of the Department of Justice from Attorney General Holder, this discrimination should end.
Defending the Rights of All Disability and Workers’ Comp Claimants
Unfortunately, there are still cases where employers or federal workers may try to continue this discrimination and attempt to deny auxiliary benefits to spouses or children of same-sex couples. In Social Security disability cases, it is now rare to see discrimination against same-sex marriages, but the risk is still there.
Until there is unanimous recognition of same-sex marriages throughout the United States there may never be true fairness and equality for spousal benefits in any program, federal or private. If you feel you or your spouse has been discriminated against and denied benefits that would normally be awarded to an opposite-sex spouse, you need an attorney who knows how to challenge and appeal these unfair decisions.
Markhoff & Mittman P.C. is proud to represent claimants of any gender, sexual orientation, or marital status. When other parties discriminate against our clients, it’s our job to make things right with your Social Security or workers’ compensation claim. Contact us today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation. Call 866-205-2415 or toll free 866-205-2415.