This recognition means that same-sex marriages are considered equal and that as legally married couples, they are to be granted the same rights and privileges that all married couples enjoy. For many, those rights now include spousal benefits.
Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, there was a patchwork of state and federal laws that governed how same-sex couples received benefits. Now, in light of the Supreme Court’s decision there is no legal differentiation between a same-sex or different-sex marriage. In the eyes of the law, a spouse is a spouse.
Benefits to which many spouses are now eligible include:
- Employer sponsored health insurance
- Social security spousal benefits
- Veteran’s spousal benefits
- Retirement benefits
We will discuss each of these areas in more detail over the next few weeks in order to better understand how legally married same-sex couples can ensure that they are receiving the spousal benefits to which they are entitled.
Spousal Health Insurance Benefits
In general, companies that offer health insurance benefits to spouses should now be offering those benefits to married same-sex couples. Within one week of the decision, the University of Texas System, the Texas A&M University System, and the Employees Retirement System of Texas all began extending benefits to the spouses of gay and lesbian employees. Other employers in Texas should have already begun to follow suit, however, there are some exceptions.
If a company is self-insured they may not be legally required to offer benefits to a same-sex spouse. However, if a company chooses to deny benefits to a same-sex spouse, they do become vulnerable to discrimination suits, and those affected should seek legal counsel in order to best determine their rights. Marriage equality means that all married couples, regardless of their sexual orientation are equally recognized in the eyes of the law. This recognition includes the right to spousal benefits.
If you have questions about your spousal benefits, or feel that you are being denied benefits to which you are legally entitled, contact Alexander Law Firm. We will listen to you, discuss your options, and help advocate for your rights.