Social SecurityThe Department of Education and Social Security announced additional rights for gay and lesbian families.

All legal same-sex marriages will be recognized by the Department of Education for federal financial aid purposes.

A student or a parent will be recognized as legally married “if the couple was legally married in any jurisdiction that recognizes the marriage, regardless of whether the marriage is between a couple of the same sex or opposite sex, and regardless of where the student or couple lives or the student is attending school.”

This affects how to fill out FAFSA, the federal student aid form.

Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, a student under the age of 24 who was married to an opposite-sex spouse was considered independent for financial aid purposes, while the same student was considered dependent if married to a same-sex spouse. Now, all married students are considered independent for student loan purposes.

Social Security is processing some widow’s and widower’s claims by surviving members of same-sex marriages and paying benefits where they are due.

In addition, Social Security is now paying one-time lump sum death benefit claims to surviving same-sex spouses.

“As I stated shortly after the Supreme Court decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, our goal is to treat all Americans with dignity and respect,” said Acting Commissioner of Social Security Carolyn W. Colvin. “We ask for continued patience from the public as we work closely with the Department of Justice to develop policies that are legally sound so we can process claims.”

She encouraged anyone eligible for those benefits to apply now to protect against the loss of any potential benefits. Claims will be processed as soon as additional instructions are finalized.