Friday, April 2, 2010

Rock for Equality on April 11th

Rock for Equality is a national event to demand economic fairness in Social Security benefits for America’s same-sex couples. Estimates suggest in the past decade alone LGBT families have been deprived of more than 2 billion dollars in Social Security benefits. The event is taking place in Los Angeles on April 11th but will also be held virtually nationwide to demonstrate support for an end to economic injustice.

Social Security Benefits which are denied to same-sex couples fall into four categories:

1) Spousal Retirement Benefits
* – allow a low-income spouse to be eligible for either their own benefit, or an amount equal to one-half of their higher earning spouse’s benefit. It is common for one partner to earn more and pay more into Social Security than the other. Once both partners have retired, one, for example, may qualify for benefits of $500 a month and the other for $2,000 a month. The one who has qualified for $500 is automatically qualified for $1,000 instead which is equal to half of the larger earners benefit. When retirement comes, the lower earner gets a boost, so that the couple can retire with some security. This benefit is not available to same-sex couples.

2) Spousal /Dependents Disability Benefit under SSDI * - provides for a spouse and dependents to qualify for benefits on a disabled worker’s earnings record in the same way as with retired workers (see above). This benefit is not available to same-sex couples. Even the children of same-sex couples may be at risk. (The Department of Justice has issued an opinion on this, but this area of law is still unclear.)

3) Survivors Benefits
* – allow a widow or widower to be eligible to claim their own Social Security benefit, or an amount equal to the benefit to which their deceased spouse was eligible. So, upon retirement, if a couple qualifies for $500 for one person and $2000 for the other, together their monthly benefit would be $2,500. Upon the death of the person getting $2,000, the survivor can receive $2000 per month, instead of $500. Although the household income will go down by $500, the survivor can adjust by economizing on living expenses for one person instead of two, and live with some security. This is true in all cases except when the survivor was in a same-sex partnership. In those instances, the survivor has to get by on only $500 per month.

4) Death Benefit* - Upon the death of a spouse, Social Security provides a modest benefit of $255 for burial expenses, etc. But not if the survivor was in a same-sex partnership.

Event details:

Date: Sunday, April 11, 2010
Starting Location: L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center at 1625 N. Schrader Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028-6213

and Issuing of “Social Security Cards”: 9:30 a.m.

Kick-off Rally: 10:00 a.m.

One-Mile March to Social Security Building Begins: 10:45 a.m. (time approx.)

Protest demonstration and Rock-in: 11:30 a.m. to Noon at the Social Security Building, 1122 N. Vine St Los Angeles, CA 90038

Concluding Program: Noon to 12:30 p.m. (time approx.)

People interested in participating virtually should sign up here.

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