Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) Thursday commended the Social Security Administration for addressing errors in the treatment of social security beneficiaries in same-sex marriages. In a letter led by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Mark Tokano (D-Calif.) last year, the Vermont delegation and 118 of their colleagues urged Acting Commissioner of Social Security Carolyn W. Colvin and Attorney General Loretta Lynch to ensure that same-sex couples were not penalized due to SSA's delayed implementation of the Supreme Court's landmark marriage decision.
In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders and Welch said: "This is a step forward in assuring that same-sex elderly spouses and couples with disabilities get the benefits they deserve. Legally married couples should not be forced to jump through hoops to remedy unfair treatment. We welcome the agency's responsiveness, bringing it in line with the Supreme Court's landmark decision to recognize same-sex marriage."
Due to the SSA's delayed implementation of the law following the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor, individuals in same-sex marriages were still receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits as if they were single. The new steps urged by Leahy, Sanders, Welch and others establish a streamlined waiver process that identifies Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries in same-sex marriages who were affected, presumes that a waiver has been requested for each beneficiary and assumes that these individuals are without fault.