Rep. Mark Takano Introduces Legislation to Close Social Security and Medicare LGBT Loopholes
Jul 23, 2014
Washington DC – Earlier today, Rep. Mark Takano introduced the Social Security and Medicare Parity Act, which would close several loopholes in the Social Security Act and guarantee that all married couples, traditional and same-sex, receive the Social Security and Medicare spouse and survivor benefits that they have earned.
After the Supreme Court issued its ruling for United States v. Windsor, the Department of Justice conducted a review to determine implementation of spouse and survivor benefits. The review concluded that despite Section 3 of DOMA being ruled unconstitutional, certain provisions of the Social Security Act prohibit the federal government from paying same-sex married couples their earned Social Security and Medicare benefits if the state does not recognize same-sex marriage.
The Social Security Act also requires couples to be married for nine months before they can qualify for Social Security benefits, or twelve months for a retired spouse to receive benefits.
The Social Security and Medicare Parity Act would close these loopholes by:
- Repealing discriminatory provisions and allow the Social Security Administration to award benefits to any marriage that is valid.
- Allowing same-sex married couples whose marriage was delayed because of discrimination to use a combination of marriage time and time in domestic partnership to qualify for benefits.
- Requiring the Social Security Administration to notify Americans of the new policies and conduct a comprehensive outreach campaign to encourage same-sex couples to apply for the benefits they are owed.
“One year has passed since the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act,” said Rep. Takano. “However, the Department of Justice’s interpretation of existing law means that some same-sex couples who live in discriminatory states could be denied Social Security or Medicare benefits. The Social Security and Medicare Parity Act of 2014 closes that loophole and guarantees that all married couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, receive the Social Security and Medicare spouse and survivor benefits they have earned.”
Original co-sponsors of the legislation include Rep. Xavier Becerra, Rep. David Cicilline, Rep. Brian Higgins, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Adam Schiff, and Rep. Jim McDermott.
The Social Security and Medicare Parity Act has been endorsed by Social Security Works, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, the National Senior Citizens Law Center, and the AFL-CIO.