Palmer Rodak & Associates
Palmer Rodak & Associates
Certified Family Law Specialists State Bar of California Board of Legal SpecializationServing your Community for 19 Years
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Social Security and Same-Sex Divorce

Couples across California may realize divorced spouses can be eligible for claims on an ex-spouse's Social Security benefits, but for same-sex divorces, there are a few important things to note. As Investment News notes, June 26, 2015 is the day the federal governement began to recognize all same-sex marriages after the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry and to have that marriage recognized by all other states in the country. This has also provided same-sex couples with the framework to legally divorce.

When it comes to Social Security benefits, any divorced couple has to prove that their marriage lasted at least ten years before one is allowed to make a claim on an ex-spouse's earnings record. Both ex-spouses must be over 62 years of age, and the person claiming the benefit on their ex's history cannot be remarried. For same-sex couples, proving the length of their marriage is not always simple. The Social Security Administration does allow some forms of domestic partnership or civil unions to count towards the ten years, but this depends upon the laws of the states. California recognized inheritance rights on January 1, 2000, so those divorcing in the state who were together prior to that date may not have that time count towards the relationship's duration. 

The Social Security Administration has published instructions to help agents assist same-sex couples navigating the claims process, which says that those in California need to be able to provide the date a domestic partnership was entered into. These instructions also specify that if a non-marital legal relatipnship began and was then followed by a legal marriage, the agents is supposed to seek a legal opinion to confirm the duration of the marriage. 

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Palmer Rodak & Associates
Certified Family Law Specialists State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization

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