What same-sex couples should know about their Social Security benefits

On June 26, 2015, a Supreme Court decision that required states to grant and recognize same-sex marriages gave more access to spousal and survivor benefits to these couples.

Married same-sex couples have 81 options to claim Social Security benefits compared with nine choices for single people.

Use free online calculators to get a sense of what your claiming strategy should be.

Two years ago to the day, a 5-4 decision in the U.S. Supreme Court required all states to grant and recognize same-sex marriages.

This legal change made it possible for more married same-sex couples to take advantage of Social Security claiming strategies previously unavailable to them.

“One of the biggest challenges for same-sex couples when it comes to retirement planning is simply keeping current with ever-evolving laws and rules,” said Mark Kemp, a certified financial planner and CEO of the Kemp Harvest Financial Group in Harleysville, Pennsylvania.

The Social Security Administration now recognizes same-sex couples’ marriages in all states and some nonmarital legal relationships, such as some civil unions and domestic partnerships, to determine entitlement to Social Security and Medicare benefits.

A single person only has to consider nine different scenarios when claiming retirement benefits. For married couples, the available options for filing strategies grow to 81, said David Freitag, a financial planning consultant at the MassMutual Financial Group.

“It’s time for married, same-sex couples to start re-planning their future if they haven’t done so already,” Freitag said.

Here’s what you should consider when developing your game plan:

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