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Same-sex spouses now eligible for federal employee benefits

Jun. 28, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
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All legally married same–sex spouses will now be considered eligible family members under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, Acting OPM Director Elaine Kaplan said in a Friday memorandum. Kaplan's memo comes just two days after the Supreme Court voided the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages for purposes of providing benefits. (MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP)

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The Office of Personnel Management is extending federal health insurance, life insurance and other key benefits to spouses of federal employees and retirees in same-sex marriages.

All legally married same–sex spouses will now be considered eligible family members under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), Acting OPM Director Elaine Kaplan said in a Friday memorandum to agency heads. Employees and retirees have until Aug. 26 to make immediate changes to their FEHBP enrollment.

Similarly, same-sex spouses are now eligible for Federal Employees Group Life Insurance family coverage, the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Plan and Long-Term Care Insurance. All retirees in legal same-sex marriages will have two years to tell OPM of their marriage status and make changes to retirement benefits. In the future, “the same-sex spouses of retiring employees will be eligible for survivor annuities,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan’s memo came just two days after the Supreme Court voided a kay part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages for purposes of providing benefits. Same-sex marriage is legal in the District of Columbia and 13 states, including California where weddings resumed last Friday.

At the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy group, Legal Director Brian Moulton interpreted Kaplan’s memo as extending eligibility to legally married same-sex couples “regardless of where they reside.” OPM also plans to issue more information “on a broader range of issues” stemming from the court’s decision, Kaplan said in the memo.

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