WASHINGTON, June 26, 2013 – The National Senior Citizens Law Center applauds the Supreme Court’s historic decision today on the Defense of Marriage Act. The decision to find DOMA unconstitutional has special significance for older same sex married couples who will now enjoy the same rights to Social Security spousal benefits as other married couples. Without Social Security’s survivor benefits, many same sex partners can easily become penniless.
Similarly, Medicaid spousal impoverishment rules now apply to same sex married couples, meaning, for example, that if Medicaid is paying for a spouse’s long term care in a nursing home, the spouse who is living at home will not be left with little or no income or resources.
Same sex older adults are less financially secure than American elders as a whole, and this lack of financial security can have serious impacts on their mental and physical health. DOMA has denied access to benefits, from Social Security to Medicare, even to legally married same-sex couples. This decision will free many same sex married couples from concerns about their economic and health care security.
In terms of the Supreme Court’s decision on California’s Proposition 8, NSCLC is pleased that the opportunity for marriage and the benefits that go with it will now be extended to same sex couples in California, but disappointed that for the time being that opportunity will not be extended nationwide.
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The National Senior Citizens Law Center is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to protect the rights of low-income older adults. Through advocacy, litigation, and the education and counseling of local advocates, we seek to ensure the health and economic security of those with limited income and resources, and access to the courts for all. For more information, visit our Web site at www.NSCLC.org.