The Office of Personnel Management — think of them as the HR department for the entire U.S. government — has moved quickly in the wake of Wednesday Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. In a memorandum to executive department and agency heads, OPM acting director Elaine Kaplan has announced that the government “will now be able to extend benefits to Federal employees and annuitants who have legally married a spouse of the same sex.”
The memo indicates that additional information will be forthcoming, but effective immediately, employees and retirees can obtain health insurance, life insurance, Dental and Vision Insurance, Long-Term Care Insurance, and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) to cover their married spouses, and step-children. Most of those benefits are also available to spouses of Federal retirees as well. Retirees can also claim a survivorship for their married spouses, although, as is already the case with opposite-sex married spouses, a survivorship option can result in a reduction in their monthly pension. The OPM memo says that additional guidance will be forthcoming on that option, as well as on other benefits.
OPM has confirmed to BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner that the marriage benefits doesn’t depend on the state in which the employee or retiree resides:
Additionally, the memorandum states at several points that the changes apply to “all legally married same-sex spouses,” which an OPM spokesman confirmed includes couples who are legally married in one state but live in a state that does not recognize the marriage.
“Yes, these benefits will be available to any Federal employee or annuitant who has a valid marriage license, regardless of their State of residency,” Thomas Richards, OPM director of communications, told BuzzFeed Friday afternoon.