Ely v. Saul (formerly Ely v. Berryhill)
A lawsuit against the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) on behalf of a 65-year-old gay man seeking spousal survivor’s benefits based on his 43-year relationship with his husband, who died seven months after Arizona began allowing same-sex couples to marry. The lawsuit filed on behalf of Michael Ely in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona argues that SSA’s imposition of a nine-month marriage requirement for social security survivor’s benefits is unconstitutional where same-sex couples were not able to be married for nine months because of discriminatory marriage laws.
If you married your same-sex spouse, but were unable to be married for at least nine months before your spouse’s death because of discriminatory marriage laws where you lived, you may be a member of the Ely class. Click here for the Ely FAQ: https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/20210212_ely_faq
- November 20, 2018 – Lambda Legal files the lawsuit.
- March 7, 2020 – Lambda Legal asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona to end this discrimination against all similarly situated same-sex spouses.
- May 27, 2020 – Victory! Court rules that the U.S. Social Security Administration's refusal to consider the claims for survivor's benefits by same-sex spouses who were unable to be married for nine months because of state marriage bans is unconstitutional.
- November 1, 2021-Victory! The Social Security Administration withdraws its appeal, securing the district court’s victory for all surviving same-sex spouses across the country who were barred from being married for at least nine months by discriminatory marriage bans.
AARP 9th Circuit Amicus Brief (04/20/2021)
NCLR-GLAD 9th Circuit Amicus Brief (04/20/2021)
Plaintiff-Appellee's 9th Circuit Answering Brief (2-01-2021) (04/20/2021)
Plaintiffs' Reply Brief On The Merits and In Support of Class Certification (09/17/2019)
Combined Opening Brief and Motion for Class Certification (04/30/2019)