Social Security has begun processing claims and awarding payments to the surviving spouses of same-sex marriages in what is the latest change made by the federal government to better reflect a post-DOMA legal landscape.
"I am pleased to announce that, effective today, Social Security is processing some widow’s and widower’s claims by surviving members of same-sex marriages and paying benefits where they are due,” said Carolyn W. Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security, in a statement. "In addition, we are able to pay some one-time lump sum death benefit claims to surviving same-sex spouses."
The announcement comes after the Supreme Court in June struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
The updated policy, however, places a hold on claims filed by a person whose same-sex spouse died in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage.
In her statement today, Colvin asked for continued patience as Social Security continues to work with the Justice Department to develop legally sound policies for processing claims.
"As I stated shortly after the Supreme Court decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, our goal is to treat all Americans with dignity and respect," Colvin said.
The announcement from Social Security was one of several post-DOMA changes announced over the past few days by various parts of the federal government. On Friday, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Pentagon and the Department of Education all made DOMA-related announcements concerning updated policies.