The Department of Defense has announced that it will be extending spousal benefits to same-sex couples no later than 3 September 2013. Affected families have been anxiously awaiting information since then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s February announcement that the Department of Defense (DOD) would extend benefits to all married couples regardless of sex. The 26 June 2013 Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, prompting a department-wide review of policies relating to benefits.
Benefits impacted by this announcement include:
- Housing allowance at the with dependent’s rate
- Tricare medical coverage
- Family Separation Allowance
Servicemembers in same-sex marriages will be required to register their spouse with the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) in order to receive benefits. This will require a valid marriage certificate. Servicemembers whose marriage occurred prior to 26 June 2013 will have their benefits paid retroactively to that date. Servicemembers who have married since 26 June 2013 will have their benefits paid retroactively to the date of their marriage.
Department of Defense civilian employees with same-sex spouses will also become eligible for spousal benefits. The DOD will be working with the Department of Labor and the Office of Personnel Management to ensure that all appropriate benefits are being extended.