Social Security paying retirement benefits to same-sex spouses

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Overturning DOMA opened the doors to a flood of regulatory changes across the federal government, affecting rules on everything from income taxes to benefits for members of the military.

For Social Security, the decision meant that same-sex couples in 13 states and the District of Columbia whose marriages were previously not recognized by the federal government will now be able to receive benefits when their spouse retires or dies.

“The recent Supreme Court decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, made just over a month ago, helps to ensure that all Americans are treated fairly and equally, with the dignity and respect they deserve,” acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin said in a statement.

President Obama has tasked the Department of Justice with coordinating the federal effort to align more than 1,000 federal laws with the court’s decision.

Though now paying benefits in some cases, the agency is still finalizing additional changes to policy and internal guidance.

“We continue to work closely with the Department of Justice,” Colvin said. “In the coming weeks and months, we will develop and implement additional policy and processing instructions. We appreciate the public’s patience as we work through the legal issues to ensure that our policy is legally sound and clear.”

The Social Security Administration first announced that it would accept benefits claims from married same-sex partners in July.