American Bar Association American Bar Association

Employee Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses and Domestic Partners

SPONSORS: The Sections of Business Law, Health Law, Labor and Employment Law, Real Property, Trust and Estate Law, Taxation, and Tort Trial and Insurance Practice; And the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel

General Information

A 90-minute TeleConference/Live Audio Webcast
WEDNESDAY, February 10, 2010

1:00-2:30 pm ET / 12:00-1:30 pm CT / 11:00 am-12:30 pm MT / 10:00 am-11:30 am PT

Moderator: Evan Miller, Jones Day, Washington, DC
Speakers: Denise M. Clark, The Law Office of Denise M. Clark, Washington, DC
Jordan Backman, Sony Corporation of America, New York, NY
Ron Triche, Trucker Huss, San Francisco, CA

An inconsistent and sometimes conflicting body of state and federal law governs employer-sponsored benefits for same-sex spouses and domestic partners. While the Defense of Marriage Act denies federal recognition to same-sex relationships, an increasing number of states and localities recognize such relationships as marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships, or recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. As a result, federal law may preclude extending certain benefit plan features to same-sex spouses and domestic partners, while some states mandate the provision of other benefits to employees in state-recognized relationships. Our distinguished panel of experts will discuss what benefits are permitted, precluded, and – in some states -- mandated to be provided to same-sex spouses and domestic partners under ERISA-governed benefit plans, and will discuss the tax and other implications of providing such benefits.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Beneficiary requirements for qualified plans
  • Imputed income from welfare benefits
  • Continuation coverage: COBRA and subsidy requirements
  • State-law mandates for insured plans
  • Availability of QDROs in domestic partnership or same-sex marital dissolutions

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