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Social Security impact for same-sex couples

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Q. Does the change in the law for same-sex marriages apply to Social Security benefits?

A. No. After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013 (U.S. v. Windsor, No. 12-307, 6/26/13), the IRS generally extended rules for traditionally married couples to same-sex marriages. But the Social Security Administration (SSA) has not adopted this approach. The SSA says it is bound to follow state law in claims cases until legislation otherwise authorizes it to change. It will, however, grant spousal benefits to same-sex partners in states allowing civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Tip: Legislation proposed in Congress would change the SSA rules.

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