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Social Security: Everything Same-Sex Couples Need To Know About Benefits

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As of November 2021, same-sex couples can qualify for the same Social Security spousal and survivors’ benefits as other couples. As same-sex couples received the constitutional right to marry in all 50 states in 2015, President Joe Biden made sure in November 2021 that same-sex couples would not be subject to waiting periods and would have the same access to Social Security benefits as any other couple.

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The recent changes in legislation mean some same-sex couples planning for retirement may not be aware of the rights they have. Here are a few things LGBTQ+ couples should know about Social Security benefits.

Spouses Are Eligible for Three Types of Benefits

Spouses of all genders are eligible for benefits if their partner retires, becomes disabled or dies. If you are receiving Social Security or disability benefits, your spouse may be able to collect benefits once they reach age 62 — even if they have never worked and paid into Social Security and wouldn’t qualify on their own.

If your spouse does qualify on their own, Social Security pays the higher of the two benefits. Your spouse will receive their own benefit amount first. If your amount is higher, they will receive the difference, too.

Retire Comfortably

Your spouse may also qualify for Medicare at age 65 based on your record.

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You Can Get Benefits Faster If You Apply Right Away

The Social Security Administration urges all couples to apply for Social Security as soon as a life-changing event happens, whether that is retirement, disability or death. You can easily submit an application online by visiting the Social Security Application page, found here. This ensures you won’t miss out on benefits.

Similarly, if a life change such as a move, marriage, separation, divorce or new child occurs, notify the Social Security Administration right away so it can note and apply the benefit change accurately.

Your Children May Also Qualify for Benefits

If you are married and have an unmarried child under the age of 18, or a child 19 years old and a full-time student still completing high school, or a child older than 18 with a disability that started before age 22, your child may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits through your spouse.

The child must be a biological child, adopted child, stepchild or a dependent grandchild. Benefits paid to children do not decrease your retirement benefits.

It’s important to understand what you qualify for in a same-sex marriage so you and your children can get the full benefits you deserve.

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