Does Social Security Recognize Same-Sex Marriages From Foreign Countries?

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If you are married, spousal benefits can boost your personal monthly Social Security retirement benefit significantly — sometimes by as much as $800.

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In the past, same-sex marriages and non-marital legal relationships like civil unions were not recognized by Social Security for the purposes of receiving benefits on a same-sex spouses record. Now, however, same-sex marriages are fully recognized after same-sex marriages were made constitutionally legal via a Supreme Court ruling in 2015. 

Since the Social Security Administration accepts same-sex marriages for the purposes of benefits in general, if the foreign marriage is approved, you can receive Social Security spousal benefits.

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Spousal benefits allow you to receive Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s earning record. This can apply if you did not work yourself, or if your spouse’s earning record allows for a larger benefit than your own.

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The determining issue is confirming with the legal office of Social Security whether or not your foreign marriage is valid. This depends on which country you were born in and how the marriage took place (religious/civil ceremony vs. spiritual)

The only way to know if your foreign same-sex marriage will qualify for Social Security benefits is to apply as soon as possible. This will also ensure you do not lose out on any potential benefits.

You can call Social Security to see if your same-sex marriage will affect your claim at 1-800-772-1213 or by contacting your local Social Security office, which you can find by clicking here.

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About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 
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