Currently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires couples to have been married for nine months prior to one spouse’s death for the surviving spouse to receive survivor benefits. This past week, the American Society on Aging joined forces with AARP, AARP Foundation and SAGE in filing amicus briefs arguing that the SSA is discriminating against married LGBT couples with this nine-month requirement.
As noted in the brief, LGBT couples have, for most of their lives, been denied the right to marry, while many, many LGBT couples have been in loving relationships for decades; LGBT couples face economic disadvantages and uncertainty after facing a lifetime of discrimination; and denying Social Security survivor benefits to this group would thwart the purpose of the Social Security Act and the (so recently gained) benefits of marriage.
The plaintiff-appellees in the case, Michael Ely, Joshua Driggs and Harold Glenn Schmoll were each married for less than nine months when their spouses died. The SSA denied their applications for survivors benefits.
In each of the three cases, respective district courts agreed that applying the marriage duration requirement was improper because unconstitutional state laws prohibited same-sex marriage and made complying with the requirement impossible for these couples.
ASA has always prided itself on its diverse membership and programming. We also advocate for all older adults and are proud to have signed onto these amicus briefs in solidarity with all LGBT elders.
Read the full amicus briefs here: