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Social Security: Are Same-Sex Couples Entitled to Spousal Benefits?

The number of states that recognize same-sex marriage grew by two this week, as federal judges in Oregon and Pennsylvania struck down laws in those states that banned the unions. But while this gives couples privileges under state law, does it finally allow them to collect spousal Social Security benefits as well? The answer to this is a qualified yes.

Since last year, the Social Security Administration has allowed state law to dictate whether or not same-sex spouses are entitled to spousal benefits. Prior to that, the Defense of Marriage Act banned the granting of such privileges for the purposes of federal law. In 2013, the related provisions of the Act were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

As Motley Fool contributor John Maxfield discusses in the video below, the result is that married couples in states that recognize the same-sex marriages are given the full slate of rights when it comes to Social Security. But couples in states that don't are not so fortunate.

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John Maxfield
JohnMaxfield37

John has been writing for The Motley Fool since 2011. As a senior banking analyst, he covers the financial industry and the nation's largest banks in particular. He has a bachelor's degree in economics from Lewis and Clark College and a juris doctorate from Southern Methodist University. He's a licensed attorney in the state of Oregon, and resides in Portland with his wife and twin sons. View John Maxfield's profile on LinkedIn

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