The loss of a spouse under any circumstances can be a devastating blow to the remaining spouse and family members. Even those most prepared like to know that their loved ones will be taken care of in difficult and future times. Thankfully, survivor’s benefits can help make this transition easier and give some comfort to all involved. Therefore, it is important to know one’s rights, especially if the surviving spouse was in a same-sex marriage.
On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the case of United States v. Windsor. As a result of this ruling, same-sex couples can now receive the same federal benefits granted to any other federal employee or retiree.
In a Government Executive article, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) reminds surviving same-sex spouses–of federal retirees who died before June 26, 2013–to apply for retirement and death benefits by June 26, 2015. Benefits will be granted regardless of the employee’s or survivor’s state of residency.
Government Executive goes on to clarify:
“OPM also wants to make clear that surviving same-sex spouses of deceased annuitants who died prior to June 26, 2013, may apply for benefits even if the annuitants did not attempt to elect survivor annuity benefits for their spouses prior to death, and/or even if OPM has previously denied applications for benefits from surviving spouses as a result of DOMA,” stated the Sept. 25 notice in the Federal Register from OPM Director Katherine Archuleta.
As a result of the Supreme Court decision, all legally married same-sex couples are now eligible for self and family enrollment in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Same-sex spouses of feds and retirees also are eligible for life insurance under Federal Employees Group Life Insurance, long-term care coverage, retirement benefits and flexible spending accounts. Same-sex spouses and their children will be treated the same as heterosexual married families for benefits purposes, the Office of Personnel Management has stated in its guidance.
For more information about benefits to same-sex surviving spouses, consult the following:
- Read the full Government Executive article here.
- Read OPM’s Federal Register announcement here.
- Find the forms needed to apply for survivor’s benefits here.
SINCE 1994: Blue Mountain Data Systems provides all-encompassing IT technical support to U.S. Dept. of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration. We are responsible to the Office of Technology and Information Systems for information systems architecture, planning, applications development, networking, administration and IT security, supporting the enforcement of Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act – ERISA. Within the EBSA, Blue Mountain Data Systems is responsible for design, development and support for its various enforcement database management systems, as well as all case tracking and customer service inquiry systems. Blue Mountain also provides IT security services to the EBSA, in the form of FISMA Assessment and Authorization, System Security Plans, Risk and vulnerability assessments, monitoring and investigation support. Call Paul Vesely at 703-502-3416 to discuss your next IT project.