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SSA's new waiver process may affect Tennessee SSI recipients

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has adopted a new waiver process that will affect those Tennessee residents who both receive Supplemental Security Income benefits and are in same-sex marriages. Under the waiver process, those Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries who are in same-sex marriages will be identified. The SSA will then presume a waiver has been requested for each beneficiary, and also presume that these persons are without fault. Previously, some persons in same-sex marriages who applied for SSI-related benefits may have been denied waivers for various reasons.

The policy, which has been praised by some in Congress, including Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, modifies the SSA's previous policy of issuing SSI benefits to persons in same-sex marriages as if they were single. According to those critical of the previous policy, treating persons in same-sex marriages as if they were single resulted in overpayment of SSI benefits. The waiver process will not penalize same-sex couples for an error that was not their own, but rather was the result of the SSA's former policy.

Ms. Warren also praised the policy for making sure that the SSA is not penalizing those who are disabled or low-income and elderly due to the SSA's previous failure to recognize same-sex marriages following the 2013 decision in which the Supreme Court held the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, which had the result of recognizing same-sex marriages.

While this news may only affect a small number of SSI recipients, it is a good idea to be informed. A Tennessean in a same-sex marriage who has questions about waiver requirements or other Supplemental Security Income matters may wish to seek the counsel of an attorney for guidance.

Source:, "US Sen. Elizabeth Warren lauds efforts to ensure SSI beneficiaries in same-sex marriages aren't penalized," Shannon Young, March 24, 2016

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