Dems want Social Security benefits for all same-sex spouses

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Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) introduced a bill Thursday that would ensure same-sex spouses receive equal treatment under the Social Security Act nationwide.

“The current delay of survivor benefits claims by the Social Security Administration not only places an unfair economic burden on legally married same-sex couples, but an extremely emotional one as well,” Murray said. “Your zip code should not determine whether or not your family will have the means to survive after the death of a spouse.”

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The Social Security and Marriage Equality (SAME) Act, S. 2305, would allow the Social Security administration to process benefit applications of same-sex spouses that were married in states that recognize gay marriage. Currently, eligibility for spousal benefits are determined by a place-of-residence standard, meaning same-sex couples living in states that don't recognize gay marriage have been placed on hold.

Murray said she’d prefer the Social Security administration resolve the inconsistency on its own, but her bill would provide a “roadmap to ensure equality under our federal laws do not end at state lines.”

After last year’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal government was ordered to provide equal benefits to same-sex spouses from states that have gay marriage.

The federal government has already implemented some of those regulations, and spouses in states that accept gay-marriage can receive Social Security benefits, but Udall said the federal government shouldn’t discriminate between couples living in progressive states versus conservative states if they are legally married.

“There’s no excuse for the federal government to continue withholding certain federal benefits from legally married same-sex couples,” Udall said. “Marriages don’t end when couples cross state lines, and neither should the federal benefits they have earned. Whether it’s veterans’ home loans or spousal survivor benefits, I won’t rest until the federal government treats all marriages equally.”