Robina Asti, married her life-long sweetheart Norwood Patton in In a 2004 ceremony at an airplane hangar in Orange County, NY. Robina had previously changed her legal documents to indicate she was female so her marriage was recognized by the state.
However, when Robina filed for Social security survivor benefits after the passing of her husband, her request was denied. The SSA claimed that she was “legally male” at the time of their marriage despite all the legal documents to the contrary.
The SSA without saying as much as a word deposited Robina’s first payment into her bank account February 14th after Lambda legal filled a lawsuit on her behalf.
When I saw that the money was in my account, I was so happy. I felt like it was my husband Norwood’s Valentine’s Day gift to me. I’m glad that Social Security finally came to its senses. I hope this means that other people won’t have to experience this.
The issue of survivor benefits remains murky for transgender spouses according to Lambda Legal.
“The SSA has an unfortunate policy of referring all claims for spousal benefits to its regional counsel offices for review. This policy often results in unnecessary delays and errors as the counsel’s office evaluates the validity of the marriage.”