In recognition of Pride month, it is important to highlight the spousal benefits that were awarded to same-sex couples when same-sex marriage became legal. Although same-sex marriage was legalized in California in 2013, the United States Supreme Court held in Obergefell v. Hodges, that same-sex marriage was legal federally. This decision awarded many couples spousal benefits they were denied for so long.
What are Spousal Benefits?
In some situations, couples can receive advantageous benefits simply because they are married that non-married couples do not have access to. Some spousal benefits include social security benefits, health insurance, tax benefits, retirement, among others. In California, same-sex couples initially had to register as domestic partners to gain access to some of these benefits or they were outright denied altogether. However, since the landmark case Obergefell, same-sex couples are now eligible for spousal benefits that have historically been exclusive to heterosexual couples. This highlights a large step forward for equal same-sex couple rights to many Californians.
Social Security Spousal Benefits for Married Same-Sex Couples
If you are not eligible for social security because you have never worked or paid an insufficient amount into social security, you could potentially claim spousal benefits and receive some of your spouse’s social security. This allows you to receive up to 50% of your spouse’s social security payments and it does not impact the amount they receive. In order to claim these benefits, you must be 62 or older, your spouse must already be receiving social security and you must be married for at least a year. Some exceptions may apply to some cases.
Employer-Provided Health Insurance Coverage for Married Same-Sex Couples
When an employer offers their employees health insurance, generally that employee can extend their health insurance coverage to their immediate family which includes their spouse and their children. Historically, same-sex couples were not able to maintain health insurance for their partners because the state did not recognize their union. This often would put a burden on the non-employee partner to secure their own health insurance which could be costly. However, now that same-sex marriage is recognized as a legal marriage in the state of California, a same-sex spouse can be insured on their spouse’s employment provided health insurance absent any restrictions or barriers.
Tax Benefits for Married Couples
Married couples are potentially eligible for a multitude of tax benefits simply because they married that non-married couples are ineligible for. This includes filing a joint tax return which could lead to a lower amount of income taxed for both individuals. As mentioned above, a spouse can receive tax free health care coverage from their spouse’s employer. Additionally, same-sex married couples are also eligible for many tax benefits involving executing an estate. This is merely a small snapshot of the various tax benefits that married couples enjoy.
How Do I Learn More About What Spousal Benefits I Qualify for?
If you or a loved one would like to learn more about spousal benefits, please contact one of our experience attorneys at Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri for additional information here.
Please remember that each individual situation is unique, and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results. While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.