Can I get Social Security from a domestic partnership?


Q. Am I entitled to get Social Security benefits from my ex-domestic partner once he passes away? We’ve been together 17 years and now we’ve been separated since 2012. Neither of us have been remarried.
— Planning ahead

A. We’re sorry to hear your relationship ended.

Social Security always recommends people apply for benefits, even if you’re not sure you’re eligible.

In some instances, individuals who are in non-marital legal relationships, such as domestic partnerships, may be entitled to benefits as a married person. Victoria Cannillo, a financial analyst with Baron Financial Group in Fair Lawn.

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. l

The agency said if you were in a same-sex relationship with a partner who passed away, you may be eligible for survivors benefits if either of the following are true:

  • “You would have been married at the time of your partner’s death if state laws hadn’t prevented you from doing so.”
  • “You would have been married longer if not for unconstitutional state laws that prevented you from marrying earlier.”

Cannillo said the application to file for survivors’ benefits is not online. If you think you may be entitled to survivors benefits you can call (800) 772-1213 or contact your local Social Security office.

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This story was originally published in March 2024. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.