That goes for the children, too. Specifically, what happens to a child when a parent dies, just like Paul Ryan's father, or becomes disabled? Unlike Paul Ryan, whose survivor benefits made sure he could finish college, the child of a lesbian or gay parent wouldn't be eligible for Social Security survivor benefits, if that parent wasn't the legally recognized one. While some states allow two-parent adoption, or the spouse of a biological parent to adopt, as far as the federal government is concerned, there's only one parent. If the not-legal parent is the primary breadwinner and dies or becomes disabled, the kid is out of luck.
The Human Rights Campaign and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare have released a report quantifying the loss of income an LGBT family could face.
The average amount a child receives upon the death of a parent is $785 per month, or $330 per month if the parent becomes disabled. A child whose parent received the maximum retirement benefit of $2,513 could receive as much as $1,256 per month. Children whose parental relationships to a worker are not recognized for purposes of Social Security receive nothing when a parent retires, dies, or becomes disabled, even if that parent is the primary breadwinner for the family. The average annual loss of child survivor benefits for families when a deceased parent goes unrecognized for Social Security purposes is $9,420.Go below the fold to find out how much more assistance every other family can receive that LGBT families are barred from getting.
Here's a chart they two organizations created, showing the financial discrimination children of same-sex parents could face under a scenario in which the 40-year-old primary breadwinner for a family with two school-age children dies.
For many families, this means the difference between living in poverty or with financial security, the ability of a child to go to college. There are some answers to this problem. Congress could pass legislation amending the Social Security Act to include children of all families be included and to include same-sex partners in the definition of spouse. And of course, the Supreme Court could overturn DOMA. Or it might not.
Congress could also act without waiting around for the court. The Respect for Marriage Act, introduced in both of the last two sessions of Congress, would rectify this problem. RMA was reintroduced in the 112th Congress in the House by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on March 16, 2011. They need to bring it back, now.