A lesbian widow has a filed a complaint in the Federal District Court in Rhode Island alleging that the SSA illegally denied her survivor benefits.
Deborah Tevyaw married Patricia Baker in Massachusetts in 2005. Back then, same sex marriage wasn't legal in Rhode Island. Patricia died of lung cancer in August 2011.
After DOMA was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, the Social Security Administration continued to deny Deborah Tevyaw's claim for survivor's benefits. The SSA alleges that she should be denied benefits because RI would not have recognized their marriage at the time of Patricia's death.
The Social Security Administration's actions in this case are shocking given that back in June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor struck down the Defense of Marriage Act: a law that defined marriage as a Union between a man and a woman. In response to pressure from the media, the SSA has responded with a carefully worded statement essentially saying that it is reviewing its policy with the Department of Justice. In the meantime, Deborah Tevyaw will have to wait --like some many other claimants who are treated unfairly-- and live on a monthly income of $732 a month.