News (USA)

OPM announces benefits for married federal employees with same-sex spouse

OPM announces benefits for married federal employees with same-sex spouse

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the government agency manages the civil service of federal employees, said Friday that it will begin extending federal benefits to employees with a lawfully married same-sex spouse.

The announcement comes just two days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denied federal benefits to legally married gay couples.

Following are excerpts from an internal memo by OPM Acting Director Elaine Kaplan:

Health Insurance: All legally married same-sex spouses will now be eligible family members under a Self and Family enrollment. In addition, the children of same-sex marriages will be treated just as those of opposite-sex marriages and will be eligible family members according to the same eligibility guidelines. This includes coverage for children of same-sex spouses as stepchildren.

Life Insurance: All legally married same-sex spouses and children of legal same-sex marriages are now eligible family members under the FEGLI Program, which means that employees may add coverage for a same-sex spouse and any newly eligible children under Option C.

Retirement: All retirees who are in legal same-sex marriages will have two years from the date of the Supreme Court’s decision to inform OPM they have a legal mariage that now qualifies for recognition and elect any changes to theri retirement benefits based on their recognized marital status.

“These initial changes in federal benefits will make a meaningful, positive difference in the lives of many. But this is only the beginning,” Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday after the OPM issued the guidance to federal agencies.

The memo also announces the full extension of benefits regarding Dental and Vision coverage, and flexible spending accounts.

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