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LGBTQ Social Security Survivor Benefits

By Charlotte Robinson, November 05, 2021

Lambda Legal has announced that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has withdrawn its appeals in two cases on behalf of surviving LGBTQ partners & spouses whom SSA had previously denied from receiving Social Security Survivor’s Benefits. This is a monumental win for LGBTQ elders many who have been forced to live without these crucial & rightful benefits for far too long. For many LGBTQ people including Lambda’s clients in Ely v. Saul and Thornton v. Commissioner of Social Security, former discriminatory marriage laws prevented couples from meeting the requirement of being married for 9 months before qualifying for Social Security Survivor’s Benefits. Lambda’s cases confirmed that denying survivor’s benefits to those who were barred from marriage is just as unconstitutional as the underlying marriage bans. Michael Adams SAGE CEO stated, “Many people think that Social Security is merely a safety net, but in reality, it is the primary source of income for most older Americans as they enter retirement, including LGBTQ+ elders. Being able to access survivor’s benefits will make a world of difference to LGBTQ+ older people who have been denied these well-deserved benefits as they age. SAGE applauds the brave individuals & their lawyers at Lambda Legal who fought in court for these tremendous victories.” The agency has been processing many of these claims since the district court rulings last year but with the end of these appeals, there is a new group of people who can now pursue benefits – namely, surviving partners who have never applied for benefits in the past. For More Info…

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