Same-sex couples lose out to heterosexual couples in not only the ceremonial aspect of marriage, but the financial advantages as well. On the federal level, DOMA precludes the government from recognizing equality for same-sex marriages. Therefore same-sex couples are taxed differently and are classified differently under Social Security.
U.S vs. Windsor comes before the Supreme Court this week as a challenge to DOMA. The case involves $363,000 that Edith Windsor was required to pay in estate taxes when her wife, Thea Spyer, passed away in 2009. Had Windsor been married to someone of the opposite sex, her taxable estate income would have been zero.
In terms of Social Security, same-sex couples are ineligible to claim spousal benefits or collect survivor benefits if their spouse dies. According to a 2009 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA, gay couples receive $3,060 less a year than their heterosexual counterparts and lesbian couples receive $5,412 less.
Same-sex couples married before or during 2009 have until April under the U.S. tax code to file protective claims for income and estate tax refunds. Same-sex couples may also be able to collect retroactive Social Security benefits. Couples are encouraged to act if DOMA is repealed, and act fast to recoup the maximum amount of benefits that they may be eligible to receive.