What right doI have to my deceased life partner’s VA benefits and Social Security payments?

We were a same sex male couple. I was his caretaker for the 12 years we were together. We lived off of his VA disability and SS payments. I was his next of kin and had a medical and banking POA.

Asked on December 3, 2010 under Estate Planning, Louisiana


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  May I ask: did he have a Last Will and Testament? The medical and banking Power of Attorney died with him. In other words, they are no longer valid.  I would strongly suggest that yo take either the Will or any documentation that shows assets that you hold jointly to an attorney in your area.  It is my understanding that Virginia is one of those states that does not allow a legal contract that approximates the benefits of a marriage for same-sex couples.  So his VA benefits can not go to as surviving anything.  Social Security as well.  But please confirm this will someone in your area that is more familiar with the law there.  Good luck.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you have no rights to his VA benefits and social security payments. Louisiana does not appear to recognize same sex domestic partnerships at this time, and without state legal recognition, no matter how committed or valid your relationship was in other ways, in the eyes of the law, it had no legal standing. Moreover, even if the state itself recognized domestic partnerships--and even if, in that case, you were registered as domestic partners, it's likely the case that federal benefits like the ones you mention would not recognize such a relationship, since the federal government has not done so. The documents you mention are very useful ones within their limits, but do not extend rights outside of their narrow confines. Just as in a mixed sex nonmarried couple, when one passes, the survivor would have no rights to VA beneifts or social security, so is the case for same sex domestic partners.

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