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DOMA ruling opens door for Wisconsin same-sex couples to apply for spousal retirement

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Despite Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriage, couples in the state’s Domestic Partner Registry could soon be eligible for spousal retirement benefits under Social Security.

Federal agencies are working on policies for handling same-sex benefits, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling threw out the federal Defense of Marriage Act in late June.

Both the Social Security Administration and the American Civil Liberties’ Union are encouraging registered same-sex couples to apply as soon as possible for spousal retirement benefits.

Carmen Marino of Social Security says the sooner they apply, the more benefits they could get retroactively once the new policies are finally in place.

Chris Ahmuty of the ACLU tells the Wisconsin State Journal that not many people know about the possible same-sex benefits – but the group’s about to spread the word. Ahmuty says the state constitutional amendment against gay marriage is not a factor, since Social Security is under federal law.

The Social Security Administration recently said the Supreme Court ruling affects at least those in 13 states which allow gay marriages. The agency is urging same-sex couples in all states to apply in case they’re found to be eligible.