According to The Washington Post (via the Family Equality Council), the gay-friendly rules governing federal benefits for same-sex coupls, which were laid down by President Obama in 2009 and 2010, are finally coming to fruition. Same-sex partners are eligible for several types of federal benefits despite the continued validity of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
One of the most significant benefits that same-sex couples can now receive involves what is called an “insurable interest” annuity. This annuity, which offers slightly less than the benefit offered to heterosexual couples, will provide lifelong payments to the surviving partner of a deceased federal retiree. This gives some financial security to gay and lesbian couples in lieu of survivor Social Security benefits, which DOMA denies.
Of course, as is the case with other survivor benefits, there are certain eligibility requirements that must be met. Amongst the rules, the two partners “must share a responsibility for a significant measure of each other’s financial obligations.” In addition, they must live together in the same residence and must not be married.
And children of gay or lesbian federal employees will be eligible for employer-provided health insurance, even if the federal employee is not the child’s biological parent. Under the new guidelines, insurance coverage could be extended to both biological children and an employee’s “stepchildren,” including the children of the employee’s same-sex partner. The rule applies even if the parents are not married.
“Most of the two million children raised by LGBT parents live in states where their parents cannot marry, cannot secure legal ties to their own kids and cannot get their children covered under a health insurance plan,” said Emily Hecht-McGowan, Family Equality Council Public Policy Director, in a statement. “This rule change means that federal workers can now be assured that a high fever, broken arm or debilitating illness won’t jeopardize their child’s health or their family’s finances.”