Tucked in the $4 trillion budget proposed on Monday by President Barack Obama was help for older LGBT married couples on an issue they've grappled with for many years: getting access to Social Security spousal benefits if they live in states that don’t recognize gay marriages.
The benefits are dependent on where couples reside, and for those living in the 14 states that don’t allow same-sex marriage, their legal relationship isn’t recognized by Social Security under federal law.
But in his new budget, which will have to be approved by a Republican-controlled Congress, Obama called for the Social Security Act to be amended to ensure that married gay couples can access those benefits – regardless of where they live.
“Currently, if a legally married same-sex couple lives in a State that does not recognize their marriage, these Social Security benefits are unavailable under federal law,” read a note in the president’s budget. “This means that for a couple that marries in one state where same-sex marriage is recognized and then moves to another state where it is not, the protection that Social Security spousal benefits provides to families is unavailable. Under this President's proposal, such married couples would have access to these benefits.”
Thirty-six states plus the District of Columbia allow gays and lesbians to wed. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to answer the question of where same-sex marriage must be allowed nationwide by the end of its term this summer.