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Same-sex couples and Social Security benefits

As many of our readers know, Colorado is one of the states that has legalized same-sex marriage. This means that same-sex couples who are married and live in Colorado, regardless of where they were married, can enjoy the same rights and benefits as those who are in opposite-sex marriages in the state. One of these rights is to receive Social Security survivor benefits and spousal benefits for couples who qualify for the benefits.

For same-sex couples who are married in a state that has legalized the unions, Social Security benefits are available. Spousal benefits are reserved for spouses that have been married for one year. Survivor benefits are reserved for those who have been married at least nine months.

The differences between these benefits is that survivor benefits might be worth more and are claimed at different times. The amount of the benefit is based on the Primary Insurance Amount. In the case of a spousal benefit, the spouse can receive up to 50 percent of that amount. For a survivor's benefit, that amount is up to 100 percent after one spouse passes away.

Same-sex couples who live in Colorado and who have minor children might be eligible for Social Security dependent benefits if one spouse is getting benefits. With the constant state of flux relating to Social Security benefits, same-sex married couples should work with someone familiar with these programs to ensure they are getting the benefits due to them. Taking action as soon as possible can help to prevent the loss of benefits that might occur by waiting to apply.

Source: Investment News, "A crash course on Social Security benefits for gay couples" Mary Beth Franklin, Nov. 18, 2014

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