Social Security: Do You Need To Update Your Record If You Enter A Civil Union?

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A civil union is a legal union that joins two people together and provides the same legal protections as a marriage but only at the state level. When it comes to civil unions, not all of them provide federal benefits, protections or responsibilities to couples as this type of union is not recognized by all states. 

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When it comes to Social Security, the administration recognizes same-sex couples’ marriages in all states, but only some civil unions for the proposes of determining eligibility for Social Security benefits, according to the SSA blog.

Some states have given the same legal rights to those in civil unions as those in legal marital relationships. These states include Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont and New Jersey. 

Other states converted all civil unions into marriages after the Supreme Court decision in 2015 that made same-sex marriages legal in all states. These states include Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

So do you need to contact Social Security if you are in a civil union? In short, the answer is YES — specifically if it involves one spouse or the other’s benefits.

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If you want to claim Social Security benefits on your spouses’ record or vice-versa, you will need to contact Social Security to see whether or not they recognize your civil union for purposes of attaining benefits. 

See: Social Security Payment Schedule 2022
Find: How To Boost Your Social Security Benefit by $800

Since the 2015 ruling, it might simply be easier to convert the union into a marriage for social security purposes. If you already receive Social Security benefits, the SSA advises that you must tell them if you get married, enter a non-marital legal relationship, or divorce as your marital status may affect your entitlement to benefits. For questions on how a civil union affects social security benefits, you can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or contact your local Social Security office, which can be found 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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