When you lose a beloved spouse, you often have to deal with the sudden loss of income that occurs when the person dies. In some cases, survivor benefits can help to overcome this loss of income. For most people, getting the benefit doesn't cause too much of an issue. For Texas residents who are looking for survivor benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Social Security Administration, getting benefits might prove to be difficult if the marriage was a same-sex marriage.
You might be wondering why the issue comes into play in Texas. Well, it is because Texas is one of 18 states that doesn't recognize same-sex marriages as of the date this post was made. This means that people who are in same-sex marriages aren't considered legally married for the purpose of survivor benefits. This policy is currently under court challenge for both government agencies.
The policy is the one that stipulates that the VA and SSA must consider the laws of the jurisdiction in which applicants live. It means that a same-sex couple who was legally married in another state still isn't married in the eyes of Texas law, and therefore, doesn't qualify for benefits. This is still proving to be a serious issue for some veterans and their spouses who should be able to count on getting the benefits due to them.
The difficulties facing same-sex married couples in Texas seems far from over. Those who are seeking any sort of benefits as a same-sex couple, an opposite-sex couple or a single person should make sure they understand the current laws and policies that can affect their case.
Source: The New York Times, "Denied Survivor’s Benefits After Wife’s Death, Texas Widow Files a Federal Suit" Erik Eckholm, Oct. 22, 2014