Robina Asti, a 92-year old World War II veteran is fighting the Social Security Administration, who, following her husbands death, have denied her survivor benefits. The SSA says that she was a male at the time of the marriage, which nulls the marriage.
Asti married Norwood Patton, her long-term partner, in 2004 in New York. Sadly Mr. Patton passed away in June of 2012 at the age of 97. As many spouses do, Asti applied for survivor benefits, which would have added around $500 to her Social Security benefits. The extra money can provide a little extra comfort and support after the loss of a loved one and the emotional and financial toll it can take.
On April 24, 2013, the SSA responded to Asti with the news that she could not receive her survivor benefits because her marriage did not meet the Federal law requirements, due to the fact that she was “legally male” at the time of the wedding.
Asti, who was birth-assigned male, had been living openly as a woman for 30 years prior to her wedding, having female markers on key ID documents like her passport, FAA pilot’s license and her driver’s license. New York State had recognized Asti as a woman at the time of her marriage to Patton, and no one had questioned the validity of their marriage until now.
The SSA is hingeing their case on establishing that when Asti entered into her marriage, it was a same-sex marriage, which at the time was not recognized by the state of New York as a legal wedding. This isn’t the case however, because Asti and Patton were joined in a heterosexual marriage.
On Asti’s behalf, Lambda Legal has filed for a reconsideration of the case, but the SSA has yet to respond.
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|Kenneth G. Marks has been practicing personal injury law since he was admitted to the California Bar in 1981. www.KmarksLaw.com|