OPM: Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Marriage Won't Change Your Benefits

By on July 6, 2015 in Current Events, Pay & Benefits with 3 Comments

The Office of Personnel Management issued a memo today which said, effectively, that the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding gay marriage will not have any impact on federal employee benefits because legally married same sex spouses of federal workers are already eligible for benefits under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

A copy of the memo is included below.

On June 26, 2015, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution requires a State to license a mar­riage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawful­ly licensed and performed out-of-State.

In Benefits Administration Letter (BAL) 13-203, dated July 17, 2013, OPM extended Federal benefits to legally married same-sex spouses of Federal employees and annuitants. The eligibility guidelines outlined in BAL 13-203 are not affected by the Supreme Court decision.

The following guidelines continue to apply to the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program, the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program, the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP), the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP), and Federal Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAFEDS):

  • In the interim period while States work to implement the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision, our rules continue to apply. The same-sex spouse of a Federal employee or annuitant is eligible for Federal benefits as an eligible family member if the marriage is considered legally valid within the jurisdiction in which it occurred, regardless of whether the married couple lives in that jurisdiction.
  • Legal same-sex marriages are currently, and will continue to be, treated, for the purposes of the Federal benefits programs listed above, in the same manner as legal different-sex marriages.
  • Same-sex couples who are in a civil union or other forms of domestic partnership other than marriage are not considered legally married. Therefore, domestic partners of Federal employees or annuitants remain ineligible for most Federal benefits programs. There is no immediate change to the benefits OPM has extended, to the extent permissible under the law, to same-sex domestic partners.   FLTCIP regulations allow individuals who satisfy the domestic partnership standard to be treated as qualifying relatives for Federal employees and annuitants.

For more detailed information, please review BAL 13-203, available here. For questions, please contact Chelsea.Ruediger@opm.gov.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.