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Changes to Federal Benefits After the Supreme Court’s Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion on the case United States v. Windsor (PDF). They ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (PDF), which said “marriage” and “spouse” only applied to heterosexual unions, was unconstitutional.

In response to this ruling, President Obama directed the Attorney General to “work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.”

A number of federal agencies have released information about changes to federal programs and benefits as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision:

Taxes - The Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruled that “same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.”

Social Security Benefits - The Social Security Administration now recognizes same-sex marriages for purposes of determining benefits.

Medicare - All beneficiaries in private Medicare plans now have access to equal coverage when it comes to care in a nursing home where their spouse lives.

U.S. Visas for Same-Sex Spouses - U.S. embassies and consulates will process visa applications for same-sex marriages the same as for opposite gender spouses.

Benefits for Uniformed Servicemembers - The Department of Defense will extend benefits to same-sex spouses of uniformed service members and civilian employees.

Benefits for Federal Employees (PDF) - The Office of Personnel Management is now able to provide benefits to legally married same-sex spouses of federal employees and annuitants.

For the most up-to-date information on other government programs that will change as a result of the ruling, please visit the agency website.  If you don’t know the agency, you can browse by program.

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