Benefits Update: Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

July 3, 2013

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional. This decision provides same-sex married couples the same status as opposite-sex couples when applying Federal government guidelines to spousal benefits. As a result the USNH Benefits Office has implemented the adjustments described below.

Who is affected by this Ruling?

Same-sex couples who are legally married, but not couples in domestic partner relationships or civil unions.

Result of the Ruling

In response to this change in Federal law USNH will implement the following changes, beginning July 6, 2013 (the first full payroll period after the date of the ruling).

  • Pre-Tax Treatment of premium contribution:
    • Employees will no longer be required to make after-tax contributions for their same-sex spouse and/or dependent(s) of their same-sex spouse. As a result of the ruling, employees’ premium contributions will be 100% pre-tax.
  • Imputed Income:
    • Employees covering a same-sex spouse and/or dependent(s) of a same-sex spouse will no longer be charged imputed income.
  • Mid-Year Election:
    • Employees will be permitted to make mid-year election changes to add or drop a same-sex spouse (and dependent(s) of a same-sex spouse) for medical and/or dental coverage. The deadline to make these election changes is August 26, 2013.
      • To make a benefit election change, log into and select “Initiate Life Event”, “Change or Loss of Dependent Coverage”. The effective date of coverage can be the date the event is initiated, the date of any loss of coverage, or June 26, 2013. Documentation of same-sex spouse and/or dependent(s) of same-sex spouse will be required unless previously provided
    • While our online systems are updated, incorrect pre-tax and/or after-tax deduction amounts may be displayed on and/or enrollment or confirmation statements. The correct pre-premium contribution amounts will be processed for payroll purposes based on the effective date of coverage.
  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
    • Eligible employees will be entitled to FMLA benefits to care for a spouse (including same-sex spouse) with a serious health condition, for military caregiver leave, or for a qualifying exigency when a same-sex spouse in the military is called to active duty in a foreign country. Please reference USNH Policy USY.V.C.19.1.

Future Considerations

USNH is currently evaluating the impact of the Court’s rulings on federal laws, including but not limited to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), the 403(b) retirement plan, etc., and looking forward to further clarification from the Federal government.

DOMA Frequently Asked Questions 

FYI - This information above was also mailed to employee's home addresses on July 5, 2013 by USNH HR.

Please contact our Benefits Team at 862-0547 if you have questions regarding this information.