With you through life’s journey...
Social Security touches the lives of every American, both directly and indirectly. We help older Americans, workers who become disabled, wounded warriors, and families in which a spouse or parent dies.
Today, about 168 million people work and pay Social Security taxes and about 60 million people receive monthly Social Security benefits. With retirement, disability, and survivors benefits, we improve the quality of life for millions throughout life’s journey.
Social Security celebrates the fight for dignity and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the United States and is committed to treating all Americans fairly and with respect.
On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all states and have their marriage recognized by other states. This decision made it possible for more same-sex couples and their families to benefit from our programs.
We encourage you to apply right away for benefits, even if you are not sure you are eligible. Applying now will protect you against the loss of any potential benefits.
We’re With You from Birth
Most parents apply for a child’s Social Security number at birth, usually through the hospital. When the time comes for that first job, the number is already in place.
We can place both parents’ names on your child’s Social Security number record. You will need to provide proof that you are the legal parents of the child.
All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We can’t accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents.
The following documents are examples of the type of proof we need:
- Original or amended birth certificate;
- The final adoption decree; or
- Court determination of paternity (also referred to as a court order of parentage).
A fun byproduct of assigning Social Security numbers at birth is that we know the most popular baby names, which we announce each year. On our website, you can find the top baby names for the last 100 years.
We’re With You When You Start Work
Your employer verifies your Social Security number with us at every new job. Doing so helps reduce fraud and improves the accuracy of your earnings records.
Employers collect Federal Insurance Contribution Act or FICA taxes, and report earnings to us electronically. This is how we track your earnings and is how you earn Social Security retirement, disability, and survivors coverage for you and your family. A worker earns up to four Social Security credits each year and needs 40 credits, or 10 years of work, to qualify for retirement benefits.
We’re There for You When You Marry
Marriage is the start of a new chapter in your life. Your marital status is important for our retirement, survivor, and disability programs because you or your spouse could be entitled to benefits or a higher benefit amount based on the relationship to a worker. Children or stepchildren could also be entitled to benefits. For some surviving spouses, divorced spouses, and adults disabled during childhood, benefits could end if they marry.
We now recognize same-sex couples’ marriages in all states, and some non-marital legal relationships, for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits, Medicare entitlement, and eligibility and payment amount for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). We also recognize same-sex marriages and some non-marital legal relationships established in foreign jurisdictions for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits, Medicare entitlement, and SSI.
If you already receive Social Security benefits, you must tell us if you get married, enter a non-marital legal relationship, or divorce because your marital status may affect your entitlement to benefits. If we stop your benefits because of marriage or remarriage, we may start them again if the marriage ends. If you have questions about how a same-sex marriage or non-marital legal relationship affects your claim, please call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 or at our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, if you are deaf or hard of hearing. Or you can contact your local Social Security office.
Whenever you change your name, be sure to report the change to us. Otherwise, your earnings may not be recorded properly and you may not receive all the benefits you are due. We will provide you with an updated Social Security card. There’s no charge for a Social Security card.
We’re There to Help if You Become Disabled
One in four of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire.
Disability benefits provide financial support for disabled workers and their dependents, including our wounded warriors.
We’re There to Provide Financial Support During Difficult Times
The loss of a loved one can be both emotionally and financially difficult. Some widows, widowers, and children may receive survivors benefits to help them cope with the financial loss.
The number of credits needed to provide benefits for survivors depends on the worker’s age when he or she dies.
Unmarried children who are under age 18 (up to age 19 if attending elementary or secondary school full time) can be eligible to receive Social Security benefits when a parent dies.
We’re There For Those Who Need a Helping Hand
The SSI program provides monthly payments to people who have limited income and resources. SSI is for people age 65 or older, and for those of any age, including children, who are blind, or disabled. For more information, visit our SSI web page or read our publication, You May Be Able To Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
If you get SSI, the law requires that we look at your case from time to time to make sure that you should still be getting SSI and are getting the right amount. We’ll ask you the same kind of questions you answered when you applied for SSI. For example, we’ll need information about your income, your resources, whether someone moves into or out of your household, and your bank accounts. You should report a change when it happens.
We consider your marital status when we determine eligibility and payment amount for SSI. Therefore, you must tell us about any marriage, separation, divorce, or death that could affect your SSI eligibility and payment amount.
Your spouse’s income and resources may count when we determine your eligibility and SSI payment amount. We pay a married couple where both individuals are eligible for SSI a couple’s benefit amount that is less than the amount that we pay to two individuals. If you’re younger than age 18, we may consider part of your parents’ income and resources in determining your eligibility and SSI payment amount.
If you become a parent
If you become the parent of a child (including an adopted child) after you begin receiving SSI payments, let us know.
How and when to report changes
Don’t wait until we review your case to tell us about any changes. You must report a change within 10 days after the month it happens. You should report a change even if you’re late. If you don’t report a change, you may not receive the money you are eligible for if the change means you should receive a greater amount. Or, you may get too much money and have to pay it back. For more information, read What You Need to Know When You Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
We Wouldn’t Miss Your Retirement Party
When most people think of Social Security, they think of retirement benefits — with good reason.
Social Security is a lifeline for most retirees, keeping tens of millions out of poverty. Fifty-one percent of the workforce has no private pension coverage. Thirty-four percent of the workforce has no savings set aside specifically for retirement.
You Can Count on Us to Be There
Your Social Security taxes pay for three kinds of benefits: retirement, disability, and survivors. If you are married or you entered a non-marital legal relationship, and you think you might be eligible for benefits, we encourage you to apply right away even if you are not sure you are eligible. Applying now will protect you against the loss of any potential benefits by preserving your filing date, which we use to determine when your benefits may potentially start.
When you start receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits, other family members may also be entitled to benefits. For example, we can pay benefits to your spouse, unmarried minors, or disabled children. If you become the parent of a child (including an adopted child) after you begin receiving benefits, let us know about the child, so we can decide if the child is eligible for benefits. For more information about benefits for your family, read:
If you already receive Social Security benefits, you must tell us if you get married, enter a non-marital legal relationship, or divorce because your marital status may affect your entitlement to benefits. If we stop your benefits because of marriage or remarriage, we may start them again if the marriage ends. For more information, read What You Need to Know When You Get Retirement or Survivors Benefits.
When You’re Ready to Apply for Benefits
When you are ready to apply for benefits, you can apply for benefits online.
For more information about retirement benefits, read Retirement Benefits.
For more information about Social Security disability benefits, read Disability Benefits. You can apply for Social Security disability benefits online.
If you have additional questions
If you have questions about how a same-sex marriage or non-marital legal relationship may affect your claim, or to tell us if you are married, separated or divorced, please call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office.
Advocates, members of the media, and others with general questions about same-sex marriage or non-marital legal same-sex relationships and Social Security programs may contact their Regional Communications Director.