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Same-Sex Marriage Partners Benefits Update

Revised 9/12/2013

CalPERS is offering a one-time exception opportunity for employees to enroll a same-sex spouse and eligible dependent children on a CalPERS health plan as a result of recent legislative changes relating to same-sex marriage.  This exception to normal enrollment limitations allows enrollment of a same-sex spouse to occur now, rather than only during annual Open Enrollment, or within 60 days of marriage.

The CalPERS enrollment period is effective now through December 31, 2013. Enrollment exception is limited to:

  • Employees who married during the period in 2008 when same-sex marriage was initially allowed in California; or
  • Employees who married prior to June 26, 2013, in another state where same-sex marriage was legal; and
  • Employees who had enrolled their same-sex partner as a registered domestic partner and subsequently married.  (See FAQs.)

The exception period provides access to health and dental coverage earlier than transactions processed during Open Enrollment, which has a January 1, 2014 effective date.  Members who miss this opportunity may add their spouse during a future Open Enrollment period or when a “qualifying event” occurs (e.g., spouse, domestic partner, or dependent loses non-CalPERS health coverage).

Tax Implications

On August 29, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a new Revenue Ruling 2013-17addressing the status of individuals of the same sex who are lawfully married under the laws of the state that recognizes such marriages.  It states that individuals of the same sex will be considered to be lawfully married under the Internal Revenue Code as long as they were married in a state whose laws authorize the marriage of two individuals of the same sex.  The terms of Revenue Ruling 2013-17 will start being applied on September 16, 2013, but taxpayers can file refund claims for prior open years even before that date.

The IRS has also released on-line “Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Individuals of the Same Sex Who Are Married Under State Law,” which specifically addresses the rules that qualified retirement plans are required to comply with, along with some examples of the consequences of these rules for qualified plans.  Please consult with your tax professional if you have unanswered questions related to the IRS ruling and how it applies to your taxes and filing of tax return(s).

Please note that this IRS ruling does not apply to registered domestic partners or civil unions.

How to Enroll

Complete a Benefits Enrollment/Change WorksheetEnrollment instructions are available through our Benefits website > Enrollment & Eligibility.


Defense of Marrage Act (Doma)

  • CalPERS > Members > and then search for “DOMA” and select > FAQs – Defense of Marriage Act One-Time Exception Enrollment.  An example is below.
    • What if a person's same-sex spouse and children are already enrolled as a domestic partner on their health plan?
      • The employee or retiree will be required to submit a copy of their marriage certificate to their employer, or CalPERS if retired. The relationship status of the parties and eligible dependent children will be changed to the appropriate relationship status.

Domestic Parners


Please contact the Human Resources Service Center – Benefits unit,, (530) 898-5436 with questions.