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Social Security Disability & Supplemental Security Income
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New Social Security and Tax Rules for Same-Sex Couples

Posted on Sep 22, 2013

In June 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated the federal Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. This decision impacts the taxes and Social Security benefits for same-sex couples.

According to recent estimations, approximately 130,000 same-sex married couples will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. This is regardless of whether or not the state where they live recognizes same-sex marriages. However, this does not include same-sex couples who have a registered domestic partnership or civil union.

New taxes for same-sex married couples could potentially result in a tax refund. When a same-sex couple decides to file their return jointly, there are numerous impacts on the filing status. Personal and dependency exemptions, deductions, earned income credits, child care credits, contributions to an IRA, and employee benefits are all taken into consideration when filing taxes. Same-sex couples who previously purchased same-sex spouse health coverage at work had to pay income tax on the value of the insurance. Now, they can exclude this amount and may be entitled to a refund.

The Social Security Administration also announced that it would start processing retirement spouse claims for same-sex couples and pay benefits due. Although the system has not fully worked out the implications for same-sex couples, Holly Deni of the American Society on Aging’s LGBT Aging Issues Network suggests applying early for benefits. The acting Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin states that by applying early on, same-sex couples can establish an effective start date for benefits that become available after the SSA’s rulings.

As Boston Social Security lawyers at Keefe Disability Law, we agree with this suggestion and encourage anyone who believes they may qualify for benefits to apply early on.


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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law