April 28, 2017

Lujan Grisham bill would allow benefits for same sex couples who could not legally wed

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham introduced a bill Friday that would amend the Social Security Act  to include some married, same sex couples that currently do not qualify for survivor’s benefits.

Named for an Albuquerque resident, the Anthony Gonzales Equality for Survivors (AGES) Act, the bill would add alternatives for those who were not married for the minimum nine months in order to receive their deceased partner’s benefits.

Related story: ABQ widower from same-sex marriage denied social security benefits

While keeping the nine-month requirement, the bill would allow applicants to provide “a sworn affidavit that the widow or widower was in a domestic partnership with such individual throughout the 9-month period ending on the date of the individual’s death.”

The bill’s namesake said Lujan Grisham’s office called and told him the congresswoman introduced the bill. He didn’t, however, know his name was included.

“I’m shocked,” Gonzales said when NM Political Report called for comment. “I’m speechless.”

Gonzales currently has a pending appeal with the Social Security Administration concerning concerning a previous request to collect his late husband Mark Johnson’s social security benefits.

Gonzales and Johnson married on the first day they were legally allowed to in Bernalillo County.

After the initial denial, Lujan Grisham wrote a letter to the Social Security Administration asking for exemptions in cases like Gonzales’.

Gonzales said he’s not optimistic that the Republican-controlled Congress will pay much attention to the bill but is thankful Lujan Grisham introduced it.

“I’m really grateful for her for doing that,” Gonzales said.

*Anthony Gonzales is the uncle of NM Political Report Editor Matthew Reichbach. Reichbach sat out of the editorial process of this story to avoid conflicts of interest. Instead, Environmental Reporter Laura Paskus edited Reporter Andy Lyman’s stor