- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Social Security Administration officials say they’re waiting for guidance from the Justice Department on what to do regarding same-sex couples who got married in Arkansas before last month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized the unions.

The Social Security Administration recognizes same-sex marriages that took place after the court declared them legal on June 26, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1K7jHPE ) reported.

Lee Alviar with the agency’s regional office in Dallas recommends that couples apply right away for benefits while it waits for further instructions from the Justice Department.

“In the meantime, if you’re a spouse, divorced spouse or surviving spouse of a same-sex marriage or nonmarital legal same-sex relationship, we encourage you to apply right away for benefits,” Alviar said. “Applying now will preserve your filing date, which will protect you against the loss of any potential benefits.”

Hundreds of Arkansas couples got marriage licenses in May 2014 during a week-long period that followed a judge’s ruling that temporarily blocked the state’s ban on gay marriage.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Thursday that that federal marriage benefits would be available to same-sex couples nationwide after the court’s ruling, but didn’t specifically address the issue of couples who got married before June 26.

Sherri Elder Johnson of Little Rock said the wait for Social Security recognition has been frustrating for her and her wife. They got married May 13, 2014, in Little Rock. They want to change their last names to Elder, which is Johnson’s maiden name.

“Why would she want my ex-husband’s last name?” Johnson said, referring to her wife. “I don’t want it either.”

She added that she needs to change her name on her Social Security card to facilitate getting her name changed elsewhere, including at work and on her driver’s license.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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