Veteran Disability Attorney Fausone Remarks On Same-Sex Spousal Benefits
Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) October 10, 2013 – The White House has announced that the same-sex spouses of military vets are now granted spousal benefits.
The Supreme Court’s rejection of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) means that the spouses of vets can collect federal benefits, regardless of their gender. Prior to this ruling, both the Defense departments and Veterans Affairs only granted benefits to the heterosexual spouses of veterans.
“There has long been a statutory requirement which states that spousal benefits must be determined through the law of the state where the couple resided during the marriage, or when the veteran’s spousal benefits ‘accrued,’ and not based on where the marriage ceremony was performed,” said veterans disability attorney James Fausone. “The number of states that still have not legalized same-sex marriage meant that determining a same-sex marriage’s validity was standing in the way of health care access and survivor payments.”
The opening up of benefits came on the heels of the Defense of Marriage Act’s backers dropping their formal opposition to benefits for same-sex spouses. The White House has announced that couples who are legally wed must be treated the same across the board in terms of federal taxes, regardless of their gender.
“Same-sex couples can now file joint tax returns and get any available federal tax benefits that were previously only enjoyed by opposite-sex spouses,” said Fausone.
Changes to same-sex benefits have also been made to family and medical leave benefits, immigration and Medicare, and in other federal agencies. Same-sex couples who are legally married are also now being recognized for federal tax purposes, says the IRS, even if the state where they live does not legally recognize their marriage.
In June 2013, the section of DOMA which barred a federal recognition of same-sex unions was ruled unconstitutional. But that did not automatically simplify the extension of veterans’ benefits to spouses; a different federal law governs those benefits, not DOMA, which limited the benefit availability to spouses “of the opposite sex.” But in August of this year, a California federal judge ruled that spousal benefits cannot be denied to a lesbian veteran in a same-sex marriage.
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