Federal benefits extended to same-sex spouses of civilian employees

On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, prohibiting extension of Federal benefits to same-sex spouses of civilian employees of Federal agencies, was unconstitutional. As a result, the Office of Personnel Management released a memo on July 3 outlining the process by which spouses of civilian Federal employees in legal same-sex marriages could apply for Federal benefits, including – but not limited to – healthcare and life insurance.

It is important to note because existing same-sex marriages were not recognized by the Federal government prior to the Supreme Court decision, all legal same-sex marriages that predate the decision must be treated as new marriages for the purpose of Federal benefit packages. If you were legally married to your same-sex spouse prior to June 26, 2013, you have 60 days from the time of the decision (i.e., until August 26, 2013) to enroll for benefits.

If you and your same-sex spouse were legally married after June 26, 2013, your marriage will be treated the same as any opposite-sex marriage and meets the criteria for a “qualifying life event” allowing you to enroll your spouse into your Federal benefits program.

For more information on Federal benefits for same-sex spouses as well as how benefits apply to dependents such as children, please download and review the OPM Benefits Administration letter “Coverage of Same-Sex Spouses” or contact your local human resources representative.

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