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Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit against the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) on behalf of Dave Williams, a widower now living in Chicago, who was denied spousal benefits after the death of his husband, Carl Allen.

Dave Williams and Carl Allen were a loving gay couple who married in California in 2008 and lived in Arkansas. Carl became disabled in 2009 from AIDS. He stopped working and applied for SSA disability benefits. Dave devoted himself to his husband’s care until Carl’s death in the couple’s Arkansas home in April 2010. Following Carl’s death, Dave applied to SSA for back disability benefits due Carl and a lump-sum death benefit, but has been denied because SSA follows Arkansas’s discriminatory marriage laws to determine whether to recognize the couples’ marriage.

Lambda Legal filed a similar lawsuit in Washington D.C. federal district court on behalf of Texas widow Kathy Murphy and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

    • 2008 Dave and Carl marry in California.
    • 2009 Carl becomes disabled and applies for SSA disability benefits.
    • April 2010 Carl passes away in Arkansas, where the couple lived.
    • June 2010 Dave applies to SSA for back disability benefits due Carl and a lump-sum death benefit.
    • August 2010 SSA denies his claim, Dave proceeds with administrative appeals.
    • June 2013 The U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor removes DOMA as an obstacle to SSA’s recognition of a couple’s marriage.
    • September 2014 SSA finally denies Dave’s surviving spouse claim.
    • November 6, 2014 Lambda Legal files a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the Social Security Administration.