The Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) the Social Security Administration (SSA): Part 2
Last time, we looked at how the Supreme Court’s ruling (in the case of United States vs. Windsor) on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) affects the definition of “spouse” vis-à-vis Social Security eligibility for same-sex couples.
Today we will look briefly at how the Court’s ruling affects children’s Social Security eligibility.
The Windsor decision extends benefit eligibility to children of same-sex couples who were legally married in, and reside in a state that authorizes gay marriage. By the SSA’s definition, in order to be eligible for benefits as a dependent or a survivor of an insured parent, a “child” must apply for benefits, be unmarried, and be under 18 and/or disabled. This applies to children of same-sex couples – with one or more insured parents – in states where gay marriage is legally recognized.
Regarding inheritance decisions for claimants who are natural children of insured parents, the SSA will refer to the intestacy laws (laws that determine inheritance in the absence of a will) of the state in which the claimant is a permanent resident when he or she applies for benefits.
The SSA has its work cut out for it in interpreting, incorporating, and implementing the Windsor decision, and there are many issues in question. One of the foremost questions yet to be answered is how the SSA will handle cases in which a same-sex couple that was legally married in one state moves to a state in which gay marriage is not legally recognized.