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Same-Sex Spousal Benefits

Federal Benefits Extended To Legally Married Same-Sex Couples

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court issued a historic decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Section 3 of DOMA was found to be unconstitutional and struck down. As a result, legally married same-sex spouses of Federal employees and annuitants are now eligible for benefits regardless of the employee’s or annuitant’s current state of residency.


Legal same-sex marriages entered into following this decision will be treated in the same manner as opposite-sex marriages. Newly married employees will have 60 days following the qualifying life event to enroll in or make changes to their federal benefit elections. Federal employees may also make benefit election changes or enroll themselves and qualifying family members in benefits programs (FEHB, FEDVIP, and FSA) during the annual open season. Additionally, at the time of retirement, Federal employees may elect to provide their spouse with a survivor annuity.

 

On October 21, 2013, The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) definition of a spouse will now cover a partner in any legally recognized marriage. This means that federal employees who have taken otherwise-qualifying leave to care for a same-sex spouse since June 26, 2013 may be able to retroactively re-designate such time-off as FMLA leave. Find out more at OPM.gov.


The Supreme Court’s decision addressed the constitutionality of a statute that defined “marriage” and “spouse” for purposes of Federal law to include only opposite-sex couples. Therefore, same-sex couples who are in a civil union or other forms of domestic partnership other than marriage will remain ineligible for most Federal benefits programs. The court’s decision does not change the existing policy that allows for certain benefits for same-sex domestic partners of Federal/postal employees and annuitants.

States Where Same-Sex Marriage is Legally Recognized

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.

Additionally, same-sex couples can marry in some counties in Missouri.

 U.S. Map

Federal Benefits

The Federal benefits affected by the Court’s decision include: Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program, Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program, Federal Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAFED) Program; Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP); and Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP).  In addition, retiring employees may elect a survivor annuity benefit for their same-sex spouse at the time of retirement. Same-sex spouses and the qualifying children of same-sex marriages can now receive survivor benefits under Social Security.

 

 FEHB Icon

Same-sex spouses and children of same-sex marriages are now eligible for Health Benefits under a Self & Family plan. Visit OPM.gov External Web Site Disclaimer for more information

 FEDVIP Icon

Same-sex spouses are now eligible for Dental and Vision Insurance under a Self & Family or Self Plus One plan. Visit BENEFEDS.com External Web Site Disclaimer for more information

 FEGLI Icon

Same-sex spouses and children of same-sex marriages are now eligible for Life Insurance coverage under Option C. Visit OPM.gov External Web Site Disclaimer for more information.

 FLTCIP Icon

Same-sex spouses can apply for Long Term Care Insurance with abbreviated underwriting. Visit LTCFEDS.com External Web Site Disclaimer for more information.

 FSA Icon

Employees can now submit medical expense claims for their same-sex spouse and newly qualifying (step) children. Visit FSAFEDS.com External Web Site Disclaimer for more information.

 Retirement Icon

Employees now have the option to provide pension benefits to their same-sex spouse. Current annuitants will have until June 26th, 2015 to elect a survivor annuity for their same-sex spouses. Visit OPM.gov External Web Site Disclaimer for more information.

  Social Security

Same-sex spouses and the qualifying children of same-sex marriages may now receive Social Security survivor benefits. Visit SSA.gov External Web Site Disclaimer for more information.

Social Security

Federal employees with same-sex spouses are now provided the same FMLA entitlements as those with opposite-sex spouses. Visit OPM.gov External Web Site Disclaimer for more information.

 

Federal Benefits for Domestic Partners

There is no change to the benefits OPM has extended to same-sex domestic partners. The Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program regulations allow those individuals who satisfy domestic partnership standards to be treated as qualifying relatives of Federal employees and annuitants. Additionally, Federal employees may designate their same-sex domestic partner as a beneficiary for their unpaid compensation, life insurance (FEGLI), CSRS/FERS lump-sum credit, and/or Thrift Savings Plan death benefit lump-sum payment.

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