The federal government announced Thursday that same-sex married couples can now apply for Medicare benefits.

The Social Security Administration is now able to process requests from people in same-sex marriages for Medicare Part A and Part B special enrollment periods, and for reductions in Part B and premium-free Part A late enrollment penalties.

The change was made in response to last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. That law had prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in determining Medicare eligibility.

People are generally able to qualify for Medicare Part A — the program’s hospital insurance — with no premiums if they or their spouse paid Medicare taxes while working. In the past, however, people in same-sex marriages who didn’t qualify for premium-free Part A on their own would not have been able to apply for it based on their spouse’s work history.

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Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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