A U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage could open the doors for more than a million Americans to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional Social Security benefits, according to a new analysis.
Married opposite-sex couples enjoy plenty of Social Security benefits, such as spousal and survivor benefits, which aren't currently available to married same-sex couples in the 13 states where gay marriage is illegal. The court, which is expected to rule later this month, will decide whether the Constitution requires states to allow same-sex marriage and to recognize those marriages nationwide. A favorable decision will mean that married same-sex couples in those states could apply for spousal and survivor benefits just like married opposite-sex couples.
There are about 390,000 married same-sex couples in the country, according to recent Gallup survey data, but an additional estimated 1.2 million adults living in same-sex domestic partnerships.
The Social Security Administration pays spousal and survivor benefits to married same-sex couples in states where their marriages are legally recognized after the Supreme Court ruled that part of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional in June, 2013.
So how much could a married same-sex couple living in a state where their marriage is currently illegal gain in additional Social Security benefits from a court victory? That depends on the couple, their earnings and lifespans. However, Financial Engines, an investment advisory firm that offers advice to retirement plan participants at larger employers, crunched the numbers to answer that question for one hypothetical same-sex couple: Henry and Logan.