Social Security Emergency Message—-Waiver of SSI Overpayments Resulting From Same Sex Marriage

When same sex marriage became legal nationwide many same sex couples received an increase in the amount of Social Security benefits that they receive.

However, if one or both members of the same sex couple are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a needs based benefit, this recognition of legal marriage has caused a reduction or even elimination of their Social Security benefits.

Here are two examples:

1) In cases where both members of a same sex couple are receiving SSI:   The benefit amount for a married couple who are both receiving SSI benefits  is less than the total of what the two would receive if they were not married.  In most States an individual receives $733/month in SSI.  A married couple who are both on SSI will only receive $1,100/month.

2) In cases where only one member of a same sex couple is receiving SSI:  If a person is  married the income and resources of the person they are married to are attributed to them in deciding if they meet the financial criteria to receive SSI.   So, if a disabled person is living with and being supported by a person who is working and has a good income, if they’re not married, the disabled person will suffer, at most, a one-third reduction in his or her SSI  for “living in the household of another.”   But if they are married, the disabled person will lose his or her SSI altogether.

As you can see when same sex marriage became legal nationwide it caused many individuals and couples who were receiving SSI benefits to be overpaid.

However, the Social Security Administration has decided that it would be “against equity and good conscience” to try to collect these overpayments.

According to Emergency Message 16013, Social Security will waive these overpayments automatically and the individual  or couple does not have to repay this money or even file the form normally required to obtain a waiver of an overpayment.

For more information see Emergency Message 16013.

Posted by Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law, Fairfax Virginia,  571-328-5795