Two Senate Democrats want to change the way a valid marriage is determined under the Social Security Act so that same-sex couples living in states that do not recognize their unions can still collect spousal survivor benefits.
Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) introduced the Social Security and Marriage Equality (SAME) Act on May 8th.
The bill aims to “ensure all same-sex spouses receive equal treatment under the Social Security Act when applying for Social Security benefits, regardless of where they live,” according to Senator Murray’s website.
The Social Security Act currently defines a valid recipient of spousal survivor benefits as a “wife, husband, widow, or widower of a fully or currently insured individual if the courts of the State in which the insured individual lives in or was domiciled at time of death would find that such applicant and such insured individual were validly married at the time such applicant files such application or, if such insured individual is dead, at the time he died.”
The SAME Act amends this section of the law so that an individual who does not qualify for survivor benefits because they are not legally married in their state could collect them if their marriage was recognized as valid in another state or even in another country.
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