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Feds issue guidance on same-sex married employees

Federal employees who are in same-sex marriages will be allowed to sign up spouses and children for health insurance and other benefits immediately, the Office of Personnel Management announced Friday — the first significant federal policy change to follow this week's landmark Supreme Court case.

In a memo distributed to the heads of federal departments and agencies two days after the Supreme Court decision, OPM Acting Director Elaine Kaplan said that the agency "will now be able to extend benefits to federal employees and annuitants who have legally married a spouse of the same sex."

Federal employees will have until Aug. 26 to make changes to their health care, life insurance, and dental and vision plans. They will have a second opportunity to make changes during open enrollment later this year.

Maryland is home to about 300,000 federal employees. Nationwide, an estimated 34,000 federal employees are in same-sex relationships, including state-recognized marriages.

The announcement follows the Supreme Court decision Wednesday that found the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages.

The ruling is being implemented so quickly that the OPM advised employees that they might have to use paper forms to change their plans because the online enrollment system has not yet been updated.

john.fritze@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jfritze

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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