The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) yesterday announced that same-sex couples legally married in a jurisdiction that recognizes their marriage will be treated as married for purposes of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

The DOL’s announcement in Technical Release 2013-04 mirrors the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruling from August 29, 2013, which states that any same-sex marriage legally entered into in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory, or a foreign country will be recognized. Like the IRS ruling, the release does not extend recognition to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, or similar formal relationships recognized under state law.

Although future guidance may offer some transitional relief to employers, the release appears to be effective immediately. Employers should be considering and implementing appropriate changes in payroll systems, notices, benefit elections, plan documents, and other matters to reflect the new rule.

Attorneys in Ballard Spahr’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group regularly advise employers on providing benefits to same-sex couples. If you have questions about the ruling or its implications, please contact Diane A. Thompson at 424.204.4334 or thompsonda@ballardspahr.com, or Robert S. Kaplan at 215.864.8417 or kaplanrs@ballardspahr.com.


 

Copyright © 2013 by Ballard Spahr LLP.
www.ballardspahr.com
(No claim to original U.S. government material.)

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the author and publisher.

This alert is a periodic publication of Ballard Spahr LLP and is intended to notify recipients of new developments in the law. It should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own attorney concerning your situation and specific legal questions you have.

Related Practices

Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation
Labor and Employment