Workforce Management

Same-sex spouses of federal employees eligible for benefits

same-sex marriage

Federal employees in legal same-sex marriages will be able to extend insurance benefits, pensions and flexible spending accounts to their spouses and children of spouses as a result of the Supreme Court decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act.

Federal employees can immediately apply to extend health, life, dental, vision, and long-term care insurance to their same-sex spouses, according to a memo from Elaine Kaplan, acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, to agency heads dated June 28. The window to enroll same-sex spouses for benefits extends to August 26, sixty days from the date of the Supreme Court decision. Retirees have until June 26, 2015, to inform OPM of any change to retirement benefits to provide for a surviving spouse.

Federal employees may have to use paper forms to elect benefits, while online enrollment systems are updated, according to the memo.

The short memo does not dig into many of the myriad jurisdictional questions posed by this extension of benefits. For instance, it's not entirely clear how the decision applies to federal employees who were married in a state where same-sex marriage is recognized, but now reside in a state that does not. The language in the memo, however, suggests an expansive interpretation. It says that OPM will now "be able to extend benefits to federal employees and annuitants who have legally married a spouse of the same sex."

There are about 34,000 federal employees in legally recognized same-sex relationships, including marriages, domestic partnerships, and civil unions, according to a February report of the Congressional Research Service.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is FCW's senior staff writer, and covers Congress, health IT and governmentwide IT policy. Connect with him on Twitter: @thisismaz.

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Tue, Aug 20, 2013

Not that it's a bad thing, but I've never seen something move so fast as the enactment of this HR process. I mean it seems like the day after the court ruled on it, the President made sure the paint was dry on the canvas. Like I said, I have no problem with it, but I thought it odd that we almost stopped the governement to make sure this was locked-in and implemented. You can tell this is one the President wanted and wanted badly.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above