Durbin, Warren, Takano & Colleagues Urge Social Security Administration to Implement Supreme Court’s Marriage Decisions, Not Penalize Previously-Married Same-Sex Couples

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), U.S. Representative Mark Takano (D-CA), and 119 of their congressional colleagues in a letter urging Acting Commissioner of Social Security Carolyn W. Colvin and Attorney General Loretta Lynch to make sure that the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage decisions are implemented and that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is treating all marriages equally. The letter urges SSA not to penalize married same-sex couples who received Supplemental Security Income (SSI) overpayments due to SSA’s delayed implementation of the law following the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision.


“We are concerned to hear that, for some time after the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision, SSA continued to issue benefits to Supplemental Security Income recipients in same-sex marriages as though these individuals were single, and that for some SSI recipients, SSA is still doing so,” the members of Congress wrote. “SSA should not penalize people who are poor, elderly or disabled because SSA continued issuing benefits to these married individuals as though they were single. According to SSA’s statute and regulations, SSA shall avoid penalizing an individual for overpayment if the individual is without fault and if recovery of the overpayment would be against equity and good conscience.”


“[W]e urge SSA to issue a blanket waiver for recovery of overpayment for all of these individuals automatically – especially since SSA’s inability to update its systems resulted in SSA’s continuing to apply Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act long after the Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional,” the letter states.     


The members ask SSA to respond with information about how the agency is identifying affected SSI recipients and its efforts to update its systems so that benefits are administered fairly to all individuals.


You can read a copy of the letter to SSA HERE