VA releases Same Sex Marriage Rules for Dependant Benefits for website

Important Information on Marriage

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a variety of benefits and services that depend on “spouse” and “surviving spouse” status. For the purpose of VA benefits, spousal status is predicated on a valid marriage under state law. Under the current Federal law, 38 U.S.C. § 103(c), VA may recognize a Veteran’s marriage for VA purposes if:

  • the marriage was legal in the place where the Veteran or the Veteran’s spouse lived at the time of the marriage; or
  • the marriage was legal in the place where the Veteran or the Veteran’s spouse lived when he or she filed a VA claim or application (or a later date when the Veteran became eligible for benefits).

VA is providing information about when it can recognize a marriage on its application form instructions and through public outreach. VA generally accepts a claimant’s or applicant’s statement that he or she is married as sufficient evidence to establish a Veteran’s marriage for the purpose of VA benefits.

VA is dedicated to serving all eligible Servicemembers, Veterans and their families and providing them the benefits they have earned.

How To Determine If VA Will Recognize a Marriage?

Scenario If Then, for purposes of VA, Veteran and spouse are…
1 The Veteran and/or spouse live in a state that recognizes their marriage at the time of the claim… or The surviving spouse lives in a state that recognizes their marriage at the time of the claim… Married
2 The Veteran is deceased, and the Veteran’s last state of residence during his/her lifetime recognizes the marriage at the time of the claim… Married
3 The Veteran and/or spouse lived in a state that recognized their marriage when they were married… Married
4 The Veteran and spouse lived in a state that did not recognize their marriage when they were married (having traveled to a recognition state to get married), live in a state that does not recognize their marriage at the time of the claim, but then the Veteran and/or spouse move to a state that does recognize their marriage while the claim is pending…

or

The Veteran is deceased. The Veteran and surviving spouse lived in a state that did not recognize their marriage when they were married (having traveled to a recognition state to get married). At the time of the claim, the state of the deceased Veteran’s last residence and the state where the surviving spouse lived when the claim was filed do not recognize their marriage. However, while the claim is pending, the surviving spouse moves to a state that does recognize their marriage…

Note: VA generally interprets “when the right to benefits accrued” (per 38 U.S.C. § 103(c)) to mean “at the time of the claim.” However, the right to benefits can also accrue at a later time after the claim is submitted, when all the requirements for entitlement are met.
5 The Veteran and spouse lived in a state that did not recognize their marriage when they were married (having traveled to a recognition state to get married) and continue to live in a state that does not recognize their marriage at the time of the claim… or

The Veteran is deceased. The Veteran and surviving spouse lived in a state that did not recognize their marriage when they were married (having traveled to a recognition state to get married). Also, at the time of the claim, the state of the deceased Veteran’s last residence and the state where the surviving spouse currently lives do not recognize their marriage…

Not married for purposes of VA benefits

***** Programs to which section 103(c) is NOT applicable because spousal eligibility is not based on marriage to a “Veteran”*

    • Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)

 

    • Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI), including the process of converting a spouse’s FSGLI coverage to an individual policy spouse of a

 

    • Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI)

 

    • Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits (VA’s recognizes all DoD-approved transfers to dependents)

 

    • Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance if the relationship is based on marriage to a Servicemember.

 

    • Burial or memorialization benefits if the relationship is based on marriage to certain reservists, certain members of the reserve officer training corps, certain wartime allies of the U.S., and certain individuals entitled (or who would have been entitled but for their age) to retirement pay. (For more information, see www.cem.va.gov/cem/burial_benefits/eligible.asp#natlguard)

 

For these programs, the law requires VA to recognize marriages based on the law of the place where the marriage occurred, which is the same standard as used by the Department of Defense (DoD). If you have additional questions, please contact one of our Call Centers at 1-800-827-1000.

List of States That Have Recognized Same-Sex Marriage:

State Name DATE SAME-SEX MARRIAGES WERE PERMITTED IN THE STATE (use this column if the place where the marriage occurred is the same as the place of residence) DATE SAME-SEX MARRIAGES FROM ANY OTHER STATE WERE RECOGNIZED (use this column if the place where the marriage occurred is different from the place of residence)
California June 17, 2008 – November 4, 2008 June 26, 2013 – present June 17, 2008 – November 4, 2008 June 26, 2013 – present
Connecticut 1,2 November 12, 2008 November 12, 2008
Delaware 2 January 1, 2012 July 1, 2013
District of Columbia March 9, 2010 July 7, 2009
Hawaii December 2, 2013 December 2, 2013
Illinois December 16, 2013 December 16, 2013
Iowa April 20, 2009 April 30, 2009
Maine December 29, 2012 December 29, 2012
Maryland January 1, 2013 February 23, 2010
Massachusetts May 17, 2004 May 17, 2004
Michigan March 21, 2014 to March 22, 2014 March 21, 2014 to March 22, 2014
Minnesota August 1, 2013 August 1, 2013
New Hampshire 2 January 1, 2010 January 1, 2010
New Jersey October 21, 2013 October 21, 2013
New Mexico August 21, 2013 January 4, 2011
New York July 24, 2011 February 1, 2008
Oregon May 19, 2014 October 16, 2013
Pennsylvania May 20, 2014 May 20, 2014
Rhode Island August 1, 2013 May 14, 2012
Utah December 20, 2013 to January 7, 2014 December 20, 2013 to January 7, 2014
Vermont September 1, 2009 September 1, 2009
Washington December 6, 2012 December 6, 2012
    1. Both Connecticut (effective October 1, 2010) and Rhode Island (effective August 1, 2013) recognize out-of-state domestic partnerships and civil unions as “marriages”.
    1. Several States have passed laws converting civil unions or domestic partnerships that were previously performed within the state to “marriages”. On October 1, 2010, Connecticut (CT) converted existing in-state civil unions to marriages with an effective date of October 1, 2010 (CT civil unions permitted as of October 1, 2005). On January 1, 2011, New Hampshire (NH) converted existing in-state civil unions to marriages with an effective date of January 1, 2011 (NH civil unions permitted as of January 1, 2008).” On June 30, 2014, Washington (WA) will convert existing in-state domestic partnerships, in which either of the partners is not over the age of 62, to marriages effective on the date that the domestic partnership was performed (WA domestic partnerships permitted as of July 23, 2007). On July 1, 2014, Delaware (DE) will convert existing in-state civil unions to marriages, effective the date the civil union was performed (DE civil unions permitted as of January 1, 2012).
    1. From June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2015, couples who have an Illinois (IL) civil union will have the option of having their IL civil union converted to a marriage, effective the date the civil union was performed (IL civil unions permitted as of June 1, 2011).

Important: VA is in the process of updating all forms that request marital status information in order to provide information on its marriage-validity determination criteria.

 

Marshall Archer
“Semper Fidelis”
Veterans and Compliance Specialist Oxford Street Shelter
City of Portland
194 Lancaster St, Portland, ME 04101
(207) 482-5138

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