Lambda Legala national organization committed to actualizing the rights of LGBTQ+ people through impact litigation, public policy work and educationhosted an event at Sidetrack May 26 discussing its work securing Social Security benefits for same-sex couples.
In 2021, Lambda Legal won two lawsuits against the Social Security Administration (SSA) Ely v. Saul and Thornton v. Saul. The organization argued on behalf of people whose same-sex partners died before they were able to legally marry, saying they should still be able to claim Social Security survivor's benefits, Lambda Legal Midwest Director Brian Richardson explained at the event.
SSA provides monthly payments to the elderly and those with disabilities, as well as to the spouses of workers who have passed away. Since same-sex couples weren't allowed to be legally married until 2015, many were barred from claiming social security benefits on behalf of their partners because they died before they could be married for the required nine months or at all.
As a result of these lawsuits, SSA now must grant survivor's benefits to people who can show they would have gotten married to their long-term partners if not for discriminatory laws.
David Freitagan expert in financial services and wealth management who spoke at the eventexplained that strategically filing for social security with a spouse or as a surviving member of a marriage can result in a substantial increase in benefits, demonstrating the importance of these victories.
WestPoint Financial was a sponsor and flew in Freitag from Boston to present for Lambda Legal on the topic.
For more information about these court rulings and how to claim spousal Social Security benefits (for those with similar experiences), visit www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/20210218_thornton_faq or https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/20210212_ely_faq.