Social Security set for a new era

Agency now able to handle name changes, same-sex couple demands and more

Evolving to serve customers

The Social Security Administration has evolved in the post Obergefell v. Hodges era. Photo Credit: Lisa F. Young via Adobe Stock

The Social Security Administration has evolved in the
post Obergefell v. Hodges era.
Photo Credit: Lisa F. Young via Adobe Stock

Governmental agency sets sights on future

Social Security is at the forefront of adapting and meeting the ever-changing needs of our customers. Technology plays an important role in helping us provide the world-class customer service America expects and deserves. And we’re changing to keep current with new laws and judicial rulings as well.

One way we’ve evolved is by developing the my Social Security account. Once you enroll for a free account at socialsecurity.gov/myaccount, Social Security can help you estimate your future retirement or disability benefits, or manage them if you are already receiving benefits. You can do all of this easily and securely from the comfort of your home or office.

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Social Security listens to your needs as we improve the technologies that enhance the customer experience. We continue to look for new services to add to my Social Security to make it an even more powerful resource for you and your family.

Another way we’re evolving is by adapting to legal and social changes. In 1935, when Social Security was created, the definition of “family” was different than it is today. On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all states. As a result, more same-sex couples will be recognized as married for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits or eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments.

Not only have we adapted to provide benefits for same-sex spouses, but transgender people can now change the gender marker on their Social Security records based on identity, with no requirement for reassignment surgery.

Our mission at Social Security is to deliver services that meet the changing needs of the public. By keeping the public informed of their benefit estimates with my Social Security and adapting to our changing society, we will continue to achieve our goals and help you achieve yours. No matter who you are, you deserve the benefits of Social Security.

Find out more at socialsecurity.gov.

Getting married soon?

If couples are getting married soon, don’t forget to get in touch with the Social Security Administration to name changes. Photo Credit: Michael Ireland via Adobe Stock

If couples are getting married soon,
don’t forget to get in touch with the
Social Security Administration to
handle name changes.
Photo Credit:
Michael Ireland via Adobe Stock

Give Social Security your new name

Every year, June marks the beginning of two busy seasons: summer and “wedding season.” With joyful expectation, many of us have already marked our calendars and started wrapping up our plans for the vacations, ceremonies and honeymoons. While the betrothed work out the details, Social Security wants to remind them about one detail that’s extremely important: the “record” Social Security keeps of your life’s earnings.

For many people, a wedding often means a name change is in order. If you are legally changing your name, you need to apply for a replacement Social Security card reflecting your new name. If you’re working, also tell your employer. That way, Social Security can keep track of your earnings history as you go about living your wonderful new life.

If you have reported income under your former or maiden name, and didn’t inform us of a change, we might not have received an accurate W-2 and your earnings may have been recorded incorrectly. This is easier to fix now — when you first change your name — than years from now when you retire, when it may cause delays in receiving your benefits. This is important because we base your future benefits on your earnings record. So, visit our website at socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber, or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), to find out what specific documents you need to change your name and to apply for a replacement card.

Last year, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry regardless of where they live within the United States. As a result, Social Security recognizes more same-sex couples as married for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits or eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. We recently updated instructions for employees to process claims and appeals when a determination of marital status is necessary.

With these changing rules, we encourage anyone who believes they may be eligible for benefits to apply now. You can learn more about our policies for same-sex couples at ssa.gov/people/same-sexcouples.

After the honeymoon, you can focus on your career or starting a family, moving to a new home and securing a well-deserved retirement. Now, you’re all set. Let the celebrations begin!

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Navigating Social Security for same-sex couples

Instructions available to make processing easier

Getting properly schooled on navigating the Social Security for same-sex couples is essential.

Getting properly schooled on navigating the Social Security for same-sex couples is essential.

Last year, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all states. As a result, Social Security recognizes more same-sex couples as married for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits or eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. We recently updated instructions for employees to process claims and appeals when a determination of marital status is necessary.

As part of the new instructions, we have:

•  Removed from our policy any mention or consideration of the dates when states first recognized same-sex marriages from other states. These dates are no longer relevant.

•  Added the dates when some foreign jurisdictions allowed same-sex marriage, thereby eliminating the need for a case-specific legal review in many foreign same sex marriage claims.

•  Updated and simplified our procedures for processing claims involving a transgendered or intersex person, allowing these individuals to self-identify as members of a same or opposite-sex marriage.

•  Streamlined and clarified the policy instructions, addressing questions raised by advocates and employees.

We encourage anyone who believes they may be eligible for benefits to apply now.

Learn more at socialsecurity.gov/same-sexcouples.

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Posted by Lisa Wallace

Lisa Wallace is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Charlotte, N.C.