Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Domestic Partner Survivor Benefits

Doug,
Please post this for all to view and not as a comment to a previous post.
Thanks,
Kathy Elsberry els@cybermesa.com
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Domestic Partner Survivor Benefits
The LANS benefit proposal all-hands meeting presented confusing information regarding DOMA and ERISA. DOMA defines the terms “marriage” and “spouse” and ERISA mandates spousal rights with regards to pensions. The two Acts combined prohibit a state from enacting legislation mandating employers to provide spousal benefits to domestic partners. The Acts do not prohibit an employer from voluntarily providing more generous benefits than required by federal law. In addition and contrary to spousal benefits, employees must pay federal income tax on the value of any spousal-type benefits extended to domestic partners.

The LANS team portrayed the elimination of domestic partner survivor benefits as a simple fact of federal law. In fact, of the 15 companies in the benefits value peer study, 9 extend survivor benefits to domestic partners, 3 do not, and 3 don’t extend pension benefits to any employee (only 401k plans). Are Kodak, HP, Honeywell, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Motorola, Raytheon, SBC Communications, and Xerox breaking federal law?

If you feel the elimination of domestic partner survivor benefits does not meet the "substantially equivalent" test, I encourage you to let NNSA know. inputonlansbenefits@doeal.gov
We are all in this together.

Kathy Elsberry

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