AMERICAN VETERANS FOR EQUAL RIGHTS
For Immediate Release
AUGUST 9, 2013
Re: Social Security Administration Begins Processing Same-Sex Claims
Aug 9, 2013 – Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, announced in a nation-wide telephone conference call today that the Social Security Administration is “beginning to process claims today” for same-sex couples.
American Veterans for Equal Rights joined SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders), the ACLU, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security, and dozens of other national organizations in a conference call that raised more questions than provided answers. Acting Commissioner Colvin frequently reiterated that “the Department of Justice is coordinating the implementation of new policies for all federal agencies,” and that any policies established by SSA must be “cleared by Justice.” But she also affirmed boldly that the SSA is “open for business and accepting claims for benefits” from same-sex couples. The Commissioner recommended repeatedly that “anyone who feels that they are due benefits should apply now,” and that there would be” no penalty for claims that may be denied. No one is to be turned away,” she said.
Many questions were asked about how domestic partnerships and civil unions will differ from marriage, specifically since SSA is using the term “same-sex couples” without the use of the word “married,” but there are as yet no answersto these questions or many, many others involving this very complex issue. Additionally, questions concerning the federal benefits of same-sex couples legally married in one state but residing in another where their marriage is not recognized, remain largely unanswered. Commissioner Colvin strongly and frequently encouraged interested individuals to visit the SSA homepage located at www.socialsecurity.gov for unfolding policies and answers to questions. A statement by the Commissioner and a special section entitled “Need Information about the Defense of Marriage Act” already appear on the SSA page.
AVER was invited along with other national organizations to partner with the SSA in helping to disseminate information on this critical issue. The changes to SSA and many other federal agencies on the issue of same-sex couples result from the Supreme Court’s June ruling in the “Windsor Decision,” which overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
AVER is the nation’s LGBT Veterans’ Service Organization, serving militarypersonnel and veterans since 1990.