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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 28 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 09
92-year-old Trans widow wins fight with Social Security Administration
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92-year-old Trans widow wins fight with Social Security Administration

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Robina Asti, the 92-year-old widow of World War II veteran Norwood Patton, has won a two-year legal battle with the Social Security Administration for the spousal survivor benefits due her when her husband died.

Patton died at 97 years of age in 2012, and Asti, his wife since 2004, filed for the survivor benefits that would have given her an extra $500 a month income.

In spite of the fact that she transitioned in 1976, and produced a passport, a driver's license, and a federal pilot's license that all listed her as female, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied her claim, saying that she was 'legally male' at the time of her marriage and therefore 'her marriage does not meet the requirements under Federal law for payment of survivor benefits.'

Asti then went to Lambda Legal for assistance, and filed an appeal of the SSA ruling.

'I am so insulted that the Social Security Administration refused to recognize me as a woman and treated my marriage to Norwood in such a disrespectful way,' Asti said in a statement released by Lambda Legal. 'I have lived a very private life, but the SSA is forcing me to speak out. I don't want other people to have to experience this.'

In their appeal, Lambda argued that Asti has been legally female for more than 30 years, was legally married to Patton, and therefore was owed the same benefits she would have received had she been a cisgender woman married to a cisgender man.

In more than six months since Asti's appeal was filed with SSA, neither she nor Lambda Legal heard anything from the agency, but in mid-February she noticed that the SSA had transferred funds into her account, indicating they had accepted her claim.

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