- Posted by Scott Wham
- On July 21, 2015
What does it mean?
All spouses are treated the same from a benefits perspective, and entitled to the same rights and privileges as all parties to a valid marriage. There are no longer distinctions between opposite-sex spouses and same-sex spouses across the country. Same-sex spouses are entitled to enroll in pre-tax benefits if their employer offers a plan.
Is it necessary to update handbooks/plan documents to indicate that same-sex spouses are eligible?
This is generally not necessary. If you use “spouse” to describe benefit eligibility, the term “spouse” now includes same-sex spouses who have entered into a valid marriage. There is no distinction between same-sex spouses and opposite-sex spouse, they are simply spouses.
This is not new in PA, NJ, and DE as these states struck-down same-sex marriage bans over the past few years. It does, however, impact employers that operate outside of PA, NJ, and DE.
It is important to note that domestic partnerships/civil unions are not valid marriages. Marriage is considered a higher standard than domestic partnerships/civil unions. So, if you are offering domestic partnership benefits to same-sex spouses, you should stop this practice and enroll the spouse in spousal coverage.
To read more about the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, please click here.