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Benefits for Same-Sex Married Spouses

On June 26, 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of U.S. v. Windsor (Slip Opinion No. 12-307) declared Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA, P.L. 104–199, 110 Stat. 2419) unconstitutional. This Act had limited the definition of “marriage” and “spouse” to individuals of the opposite gender (1 U.S.C. 7). As a result, Federal employees’ same-sex married spouses and children of those unions (including adopted, foster and stepchildren) became newly eligible for coverage under certain Federal benefits programs.

Because the Court held that determination of marriage is a matter reserved to each state, employees covered by the decision must be (or must have been) married in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage, documented through a state-issued marriage license.

Significantly, some states currently recognize same-sex domestic partnerships or civil unions that do not confer the full extent of rights as marriage and therefore are not considered exactly equivalent. Employees whose same-sex domestic partnerships or civil unions do not qualify as marriages under the applicable state laws may still be eligible for certain Federal benefits, see the website Benefits for Same-Sex Domestic Partners.

Guidance on Same-Sex Married Spouses

OPM Memorandum for Extending Benefits to Married Gay and Lesbian Federal Employees

OPM Benefits Administration Letter (BAL 13-203)

OPM Guidance: Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Coverage of Same-Sex Spouses

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Benefits Programs Now Available to Same-Sex Married Spouses and Children

Benefit

Description

Reference

Health Insurance (FEHB)

As of June 26, 2013, employees can enroll a same-sex married spouse and/or an adopted, foster, or stepchild of that union, during a special 2013 Open Season period (June 26 – August 26, 2013), during each regular annual Open Season (in November and December), or outside of Open Season due to a qualifying life event. During the special 2013 Open Season, or outside of an ordinary Open Season due to a qualifying life event, employees who wish to change their health insurance election should submit a paper form SF-2809 to their local personnel office.

U.S. v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ___(2013)

Life Insurance

(FEGLI)

As of June 26, 2013, employees can elect Family Coverage through completing Option C of form SF-2817 and submitting it to their local personnel office. Family Coverage provides for life insurance proceeds in elected multiples in the event of the death of a same-sex married spouse and/or an eligible child (which includes a foster, adopted, or stepchild of that union). Employees affected by this U.S. Supreme Court decision who have waived Basic and/or Optional FEGLI coverage (e.g. Options A, B, C) will be allowed to cancel their waiver based on a change of family circumstances. Affected employees with no coverage will be allowed to enroll in Basic and any Optional insurance. Employees with existing FEGLI coverage will be allowed to newly elect or increase Optional insurance (e.g. Options A, B, C). A special 2013 Open Season will be held June 26, 2013 – August 26, 2013. Because FEGLI does not have regular Open Seasons, eligible employees who do not take advantage of the special Open Season period to change an election must wait until they experience a future qualifying life event or the FEGLI program offers a future Open Season.

U.S. v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ___(2013)

Dental and Vision Insurance

(FEDVIP)

As of June 26, 2013, current enrollees in the FEDVIP program may enroll a same-sex married spouse and/or an adopted, foster, or stepchild of that union, during a special 2013 Open Season (June 26 – August 26, 2013), during the next regular annual Open Season (in November and December), or outside of an annual Open Season due to a qualifying life event. During the special 2013 Open Season, eligible employees must call BENEFEDS at (877) 888-3337 to change their current election. Note that for the FEDVIP program, because marriage is not considered a qualifying life event that permits a new FEDVIP enrollment, employees who are not already enrolled in FEDVIP will not be allowed to enroll in FEDVIP until the Fall 2013 Open Season.

U.S. v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ___(2013)

Flexible Spending Accounts

(FSAFEDS)

As of June 26, 2013, employees currently enrolled in a FSAFEDS healthcare flexible spending account, a limited expense healthcare flexible spending account (LEX HCFSA), and/or a dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA) can submit claims for reimbursement of eligible expenses incurred by a same-sex married spouse and/or a qualified dependent (which can include a foster, adopted or stepchild). Employees affected by this U.S. Supreme Court decision who are not currently enrolled in FSAFEDS, but who wish to enroll and participate, may do so during the special 2013 Open Season (June 26, 2013 – August 26, 2013).

U.S. v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ___(2013)

Monthly Survivor Annuity and the FERS Basic Death Benefit

As of June 26, 2013, employees will have the ability to designate a same-sex married spouse as the recipient of a survivor annuity at the time of retirement from CSRS, CSRS Off-set, or FERS, as well as the lump sum payment under the FERS Basic Death Benefit provision. Adopted children and stepchildren of the union may also be eligible for the applicable retirement system’s child survivor annuity. Current retirees will be given two years (until June 26, 2015) to modify their retirement application elections (on forms SF-2801 and SF-3107) with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

U.S. v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ___(2013)

Federal Long Term Care Insurance

(FLTCIP)

Legally married same-sex spouses of Federal employees are now considered qualified relatives eligible to apply for FLTCIP coverage. Newly-eligible legally married same-sex spouses of current employees will have 60 days from June 26, 2013 (i.e., until August 26, 2013) to apply for coverage with abbreviated underwriting. Parents of legally married same-sex spouses will also be eligible for participation, as qualified relatives of Federal employees. For more information about the FLTCIP, please contact Long Term Care Partners at (800) 582-3337.

U.S. v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ___(2013)