SAME-SEX COUPLES IN NON-MARTIAL LEGAL RELATIONSHIPS - SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS
The battle for the right to marry for same-sex couples in Minnesota came to an end in 2013,
when the Minnesota Legislature passed the Marriage Equality Act. Shortly after this victory
and similar victories in other states, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Federal Defense of Marriage Act as Unconstitutional. This prompted Federal Agencies, such as the Social Security Administration to publish new policy instructions regarding the processing of benefits for couples in same-sex relationships and allows the agency to recognize some non-marital legal relationships for determining benefits.
Many states recognize same-sex couples right to marry, however there are many states that have yet to recognize civil unions and marriages of same-sex couples. This new policy enacted by the Social Security Administration applies to every same-sex couple who are married, or under a legally recognized relationship status, in some cases you will be eligible for benefits even if your state has yet to legalize same-sex marriage. If you live in a state that recognizes Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships, the Social Security Administration will process your application for benefits.
According to their website, the Agency consulted with the Department of Justice and determined that the new policy allows them to process many claims in states that do NOT recognize same-sex marriages or non-marital legal relationships. The Social Security Program Operations Manual, GN 00210.004, defines Non-Marital relationships as Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships. The manual describes the procedure for determining whether a non-marital relationship can be treated as a marital relationship for determining you or your
partner’s eligibility for benefits.
The first test the SSA uses is state law. If your state allows inheritance from legal relationship
unions in cases where the decedent died without a will, you will pass this first prong of the test.
The second test is used to determine if the non-marital relationship is recognized for benefit
purposes using a two prong analysis.
1) was the non-marital legal relationship valid in the place it was established, and
2) does the non-marital legal relationship qualify as a marital relationship using the laws of the
state of the non-surviving partner/spouses domicile as of the time of application, or while the
application was pending, or at the time of the death of your partner.
In other words, if your non marital legal relationship was valid in the state in which it was
established, and that non-marital relationship qualifies as a marital relationship in the laws of the state in which the benefit holder (your partner or spouse) lived at the time of the application or during the application or at the time of their death, you will pass this prong of the test.
The SSA manual also addresses claims from non-marital legal relationship applicants for
Title 2 or Medicare claims. In order to be eligible for these type of benefits, the non-marital
legal relationship must meet a one year duration-of-marriage requirement. However, there are
exceptions and alternatives to which you should pay special attention.
The SSA will determine whether a non-marital legal relationship couple meets the one year
duration of marriage requirement based on whether the claimant alleges that the relationship
began as a non-marital legal relationship that later converted to a marriage, or he or she had more than one non-marital legal relationship with their partner, or he or she had a combination of one or more non-marital legal relationships and marriages to their partner, which may, in total, meet the duration of marriage requirement.
If you are interested in learning more, log on to the official Social Security Website:
Or use this link to find out whether your state recognizes and has given inheritance rights to
your non-marital legal relationship with your partner.SSI Same Sex Unions
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Applications for both adoption and foster care typically include a physician's report; reference letters; a criminal background check for anyone living in the home who is age 13 and older; birth certificates; marriage certificates; and divorce certificates (if applicable). It is important to keep in mind that having a criminal background does not necessarily disqualify anyone. (For information refer to www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us section 259.67). Adoptive and foster families are not required to own a home or meet a minimum income standard. Most agencies require that a parent be at least 21 years old. When an application is submitted with the necessary forms, an adoption/foster care homestudy case will be opened and assigned to a social worker.
It is important during home visits or interviews that the family be forthcoming and clear about its strengths and weaknesses. Weaknesses don't necessarily disqualify a family. It is the information gathered at these interviews that the social worker uses to create a homestudy document.
This homestudy will be used to introduce and represent a family to a child's social worker. The homestudy should be a detailed and accurate family portrait. The family should discuss any sensitive or confidential information about their family history. Adoption and foster care social workers are looking for families with "real life" experience and the ability to cope with challenges.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Meeting with an attorney does not need to be overwhelming, but some people may be nervous at the first meeting. RELAX! Attorneys exist to help people solve legal problems. You, as a potential client, should treat the first meeting as an opportunity to build a working relationship. You want to make sure that your side of the story is told, but you also need to inform the attorney of anything that could be used against you. BE HONEST! Everything that you say to an attorney during a consult is protected by the attorney client privilege. The attorney client privilege is established whether you hire the attorney, or not.
During the consultation, an attorney, is not only trying to get your side of the story, but also a feeling for potential issues that my arise during the case. The more your attorney knows, the better the attorney can represent you. Some of the potential questions that an attorney may ask are as follows:
- Do you have friends in common with the other party? If so, will those friends have favorable things to say for you or the other party? What kind of things would they say about you?
- What is the worst thing someone could say about you regardless if it is true?
- Do you have a criminal record?
- Have you been treated or placed in treatment for mental illness or addiction?
- Did you previously have another attorney handle this case?
- Do you have a history with the MN Department Human Services?
- Do you have children? If so, where do they live and are you supporting them financially?
- Have you been involved any other litigation previously? If so, what was the result?
- Are you being truthful?
- Is there anything, good or bad, that you haven’t told me that I should know about to provide the best representation for you?
Friday, July 4, 2014
Advanced Healthcare Directives
Medical professionals respect the wishes of patients who are competent adults, even when the loved ones of a patient may disagree. All too often, a medical patient is unable to communicate, due to incapacity. In situations when a patient's ability to speak is impaired, the patient's wishes aren't clear without a HEALTHCARE DIRECTIVE.
A healthcare directive is a document which clearly spells out an individual's healthcare goals, wishes, and beliefs. These goals usually have to do with use of pain killers, life support, and choice a facilities.
These documents are so important, and every adult should have one. A person who has a healthcare directive prepared on their behalf is called a PRINCIPLE. Along with providing guidelines to follow, a health care directive appoints an AGENT. The agent's role is to communicate these guidelines to medical professionals. Choose an agent who knows you well and who you trust.
When the document is complete, give a copy to your doctor and agent, and ensure your agent knows where to find the original. The agent cannot override the wishes of the principle.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Monday, May 19, 2014
Thursday, May 8, 2014
An annulment is similar to a divorce. However, an annulment treats the marriage as if it never existed.
The most common reasons for annulment are:
- One of the parties was not able to give voluntary consent at the time of the marriage because either they had a mental illness, under the influence of alcohol/drugs, or they were forced to get married.
- One of the parties lacked the ability to consummate their marriage with sexual intercourse and the other party didn't know this at the time of marriage.
- One of the parties was under the legal age for marriage. (In Minnesota, the legal age for marriage is 18, or 16-17 with parental consent.
Statute of Limitations
You must be aware that there are statutes of limitations that apply to annulment cases. Details of the statute of limitations are below:
- In cases regarding mental illness, intoxication, force or fraud use, the petitioner has no later than 90 days from when they first learned about the problem.
- In cases regarding lack of consummatio, either party can file no later than one year from the time they first became aware of the situation.
- In cases where one of the parties were not at a legal marriage age, the underage’s parent or guardian must file for annulment before the underage person reaches the legal age of consent.
For more information, speak to an attorney.