Educating San Diego LGBT Community About Social Security Rights
When the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act in the 2013 Windsor decision, some of the new rights for same-sex married couples had to do with Social Security benefits.
But the response by the LGBT community to apply for those benefits came in a trickle, not a flood said Ellen Morgenstern, project director for the Know Your Rights California Initiative.
Morgenstern said it has been two years since the Windsor decision and now there is recognition of these benefits.
"But there has not been a dedicated national outreach to LGBT people to let them know these rights,”
These rights include spousal benefits, widow and widowers benefits, lump sum death benefits, child's benefits and childhood disability benefits.
That's why the Know Your Rights California Initiative is hosting two town hall-style meetings on Wednesday Sept. 30 in San Diego — to educate the LGBT community on their rights to benefits from Social Security.
Morganstern said the average increase in spousal benefits for same-sex couples in California in 2014 was between $600-$700 a couple.
"This really is unprecedented," said John Brown, executive director, San Diego Human Dignity Foundation. His group helped promote the town hall events to the LGBT community in San Diego. "To have the Social Security Administration reaching out to the LGBT community is a wonderful thing," he said.
In addition to helping organize the town halls, Brown said he wants to find out about survivor benefits for his son.
"I'm 65 now and he's only 8," Brown said. "So over the next 15 years or so I want to know that if something happens to me, what is it that Cody is entitled to?"
Brown said things like raising families, having kids were not common considerations in the LGBT community five or six years ago.
"We're within finger-tip (distance) of full equality for LGBT people that is going to take a lot of learning some of the basics," he said.