Social Security Benefits for the LGBT Community

Laws around equal access and treatment of LGBTQ people, including same-gender couples, continues to evolve and change, some for the better, and some for the worse. The following information is a resource provided by Disability Benefits Help, an independent organization dedicated to helping people of all ages receive Social Security benefits. If you have any questions on your family’s eligibility for auxiliary benefits or how Social Security works in general, feel free to reach out to their team at [email protected].

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If you’re currently receiving Social Security disability or Social Security retirement benefits, your family may be eligible for additional financial resources. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly benefits for dependent family members of disability or retirement recipients. Obgerfell v. Hodges made gay marriage legal in all 50 states, meaning LGBT married couples are now eligible for additional financial planning options through the SSA.

What Benefits Are Available?

Benefits for your family members are known as auxiliary benefits. Spouses, children, and even parents can receive auxiliary benefits. Who can receive benefits will vary depending on the type of Social Security you’re drawing from yourself.

For Those on Retirement or Disability Benefits

If you’ve retired or disabled and started drawing Social Security, your spouse will qualify for auxiliary benefits under your account. Your spouse can receive up to 50% of your own retirement benefits on top of your monthly benefits as soon as your spouse turns 62. If you’re receiving retirement benefits, any minor children* will be eligible for 50% of your benefits until age 18. You will have a household maximum income limit of around 180% of your entitlement, meaning that even if your spouse and multiple children are eligible for 50% of your benefits, your monthly payment will be capped.
*Who counts as a “child” to the SSA? Biological, adopted, and step children will all qualify. You will not need to adopt your spouse’s child if he or she was adopted or is from another marriage, but you will need to wait one year after marriage before applying for auxiliary benefits on behalf of a stepchild.

Your child could be eligible for auxiliary benefits well beyond age 18 if he or she has a disability that began before age 22, such as autism or cerebral palsy.

Survivors’ Benefits

If you or your spouse were to pass away, additional benefits will be available to your family. Surviving spouses are eligible for between 75%-100% of a deceased spouse’s benefits starting at age 60. Minor children are also eligible for 75% of a parent’s benefits until age 18.

Your parents would also be eligible for survivors’ benefits if you were to pass away so long as your parents are over age 62 and were dependent on you for at least 50% for their daily living expenses.

What Benefits Can’t Be Claimed?

The only benefits that can’t be claimed by the LGBT community (yet) are auxiliary benefits from a disabled or retired spouse after divorce. Typically you can claim 50% of a spouse’s entitlement after a divorce once you’re over age 62, so long as you had been married for 10 years and did not remarry before age 60. Because the Supreme Court did not recognize gay marriage until 2015, it’s unlikely anyone in the LGBT community will be eligible for these resources until 2025 at the earliest.

Starting Your Application

If you need to add beneficiaries to your account, you’ll unfortunately only be able to do so at your closest Social Security office. To make an appointment to fill out the paperwork in person, simply call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213.

Helpful Resources

The SSA’s Website:

Types of Beneficiaries:

SSA Offices Across the Country:

Some Princes Don’t Care Much For Princesses – So What’s the Big Deal?

The queen was quite concerned that all the other princes in their region were married, but her son Prince Bertie was not.

The queen was quite concerned that all the other princes in their region were married, but her son Prince Bertie was not.

Please see the several links to additional blogs and resources at the bottom of this short blog.

In the May 15th Raleigh News and Observer, front page, was a story (link) about third grade teacher, Mr. Omar Currie, who got into hot water for reading the book “King and King” by Dutch authors Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland to his third grade class in rural Efland, North Carolina. Mr. Currie read this delightful book to his class after a boy was being bullied in his classroom and the word “gay” was used in a negative sense. (NOTE: follow up newspaper article on the subsequent public hearing.)

This book is a classic fairy tale about Prince Bertie, who is single despite his mother’s wish that he find a princess to marry. After the queen issues an invitation to the world’s princesses to come meet her eligible bachelor prince son and Bertie meets a very diverse set of princesses from all corners of the globe, he finally (and bravely) declares to his mother, “I’ve never cared much for princesses.” Luckily, Prince Bertie meets Price Lee, and they fall in love and get married.

Good news!  Prince Bertie finally meet Prince Lee, they fall in love, get married and live happily ever after.

Good news! Prince Bertie finally meet Prince Lee, they fall in love, get married and live happily ever after.

Now a local resident who does not even have a child enrolled in the school with a few other local parents are raising a fuss about the “inappropriateness” of the book. So I ask, what is so inappropriate about reading one single children’s book that features a same-gender couple? Here are 3 important short points:

1. Same gender (or gay) marriage is now a reality in 21st century USA and in many countries around the world including Europe and Latin America. A majority of US states now have same-gender marriage and more than likely it will be a nationwide reality after the US Supreme Court issues a final ruling on this matter in late June. And even Mr. Currie states that several students in his school have two moms or two dads. Shouldn’t those families be included in stories as well as all others?

2. Schools must address bullying and foster diversity. When a girl is bullied for being a “tomboy”, or a boy is bullied for being a little feminine, or a child is bullied for being multi-racial, or has a disability, or two mommies or two daddies, the school must address it. Children need to be taught early and often that bullying is always wrong and that all people should be respected and valued.

Third grade teacher Omar Currie acknowledges applause in response to his impassioned speech at a community hearing. Photo: Harry Lynch,

Third grade teacher Omar Currie acknowledges applause in response to his impassioned speech at a community hearing. Photo: Harry Lynch, [email protected]

3. Teaching about different ways of life does not diminish or detract from anyone! Mr. Currie estimates he reads 500 books in a typical school year to his class. So one book out of 500 features a same-gender couple. That in no way takes away from opposite gender couples or single parents families that may be portrayed in the other 499 books! People need to get over feeling threatened by people who are not exactly like them.

In closing, I would like to salute the enlightened teacher Mr. Omar Currie for doing the right thing in his class. Let’s all emulate Mr. Currie and support diversity of all kinds of families in our schools, business settings, churches and communities!

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Additional blogs and resources:

Blog about LGBT bullying and hate speech.

Blog about a leading anti-bullying non-profit, the Tyler Clementi Foundation.

Connection to GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), resources for promoting equality and protection of all LGBT students in schools at all grade levels.

Blog with two scenarios of schoolyard bullying eventually impacting workplace harassment.

Blog about LGBT diversity and bullying in the sports world.

Website with resources on hate crimes.

Blog with link to an organization about being an ally to the LGBT community.