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Domestic Partners - Eligible Benefits Programs

Employee Benefits Program Table
Benefits Description Reference
Paid Leave

Employees may receive paid leave for certain approved absences from duty. Same-sex domestic partners are now defined as “family members” for the purposes of sick leave and “immediate relatives” for the purposes of military funeral leave:

  • Sick leave to care for a family member receiving general medical care or temporarily incapacitated, or to make arrangements following the death of a family member (13 days or 104 hours);
  • Sick leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition (12 weeks or 480 hours)*;
  • Funeral leave to attend the funeral of an immediate family member who died from injuries sustained in military conflict (3 days);
  • Voluntary leave transfer program, i.e. the transfer of annual leave to an approved Federal employee;
  • Voluntary leave bank program, i.e. the transfer of annual leave to a general leave bank for use by employees who experience medical emergencies;
  • Emergency leave transfer program, i.e. the transfer of leave to Federal employees affected by a disaster or emergency.

* Job protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act do not apply, due to the current definition of a spouse.

75 FR 33491 (June 14, 2010), amending 5 CFR Section 630, subparts B, H, I, J and K.
Long-term Care Insurance Same-sex domestic partners can now enroll in Federal long-term care insurance, due to a change in the definition of a “qualified relative.” 75 FR 30267 (June 1, 2010), amending 5 CFR 875.213.
Survivor/Death Benefits

When a Federal employee or retired annuitant dies, certain death benefits are available to survivors. Because eligibility for survivor benefits depends on multiple factors, employees should receive counseling from their local human resources office. Covered below are the major sources of Federal death benefits for survivors.

  1. Retirement System Benefits

    In some circumstances, a survivor can receive a lump-sum payment that represents a refund of the deceased’s retirement system contributions under either of the two retirement systems (CSRS or FERS). To direct any lump-sum payment refund that might occur, the employee can designate a same-sex partner as the beneficiary by submitting form SF-2808 (if under the Civil Service Retirement System, CSRS) or form SF-3102 (if under FERS) to his or her local personnel office.

    Under new government-wide Federal regulations, a retiring employee (under either CSRS or FERS) can elect an insurable interest annuity that provides a monthly survivor annuity to a same-sex domestic partner in the event of the annuitant’s death. The monthly survivor annuity amount is either 55 percent (if under CSRS) or 50 percent (if under FERS) of the annuitant’s normal pension income. Under the new regulations, same-sex domestic partners are given a presumption of an insurable interest, which streamlines approval as long as basic documentation requirements are met. An insurable interest annuity is elected at the time of retirement, and is included as part of the general retirement application (SF-2801 for CSRS and SF-3107 for FERS).

    When a Federal employee or retired annuitant dies, the survivor applies for Federal pension benefits by submitting form SF-2800 (if under CSRS) or SF-3104 (if under FERS). When there is a death-in-service, these forms are submitted to the local personnel office. When the deceased was a retired annuitant, the forms are submitted instead to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

    Note: For cases of a deceased employee or annuitant who participated in FERS, survivor benefits administered by the Social Security Administration are not payable to same-sex domestic partners.

  2. Life Insurance Proceeds

    An employee can direct the payment of Federal life insurance to a same-sex domestic partner by designating the individual as a beneficiary through form SF-2823.

  3. Thrift Savings Plan

    Employees can designate a specific beneficiary, so that Thrift Savings Plan accounts are disbursed to individuals different from the statutory order of precedence. To designate a beneficiary, complete form TSP-3 and mail it to the Thrift Savings Board using the mailing address given on the form.

  4. Funeral Expenses

    The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1996 (Sec. 651 of P.L. 104-208) gives Federal agencies the discretion to pay up to $10,000 towards funeral expenses of an employee killed in the line of duty. Known as the “death gratuity payment,” survivors should contact their personnel office for further information.

  5. Final Salary and Leave Compensation

    The final salary and value of accrued annual leave can be provided to a designated beneficiary by completing form SF-1152 and returning it to the servicing personnel office.

77 FR 42909 (July 20, 2012), amending 5 CFR Parts 831 (CSRS) and 842 (FERS)
Employee Assistance Program Under a proposed rule, OPM recommends that an agency’s employee assistance program that provides benefits to family members be made available to same-sex domestic partners. 76 FR 45208 (July 28, 2011)
Childcare Subsidy Program Under a proposed rule, OPM recommends that an agency’s childcare subsidy program include eligibility of same-sex domestic partnership households with children in the childcare subsidy program. This subsidy program, authorized under the Treasury and General Appropriations Act of 2002 (Sec. 630 of P.L. 107-67) allows agencies to use appropriated funds to pay for childcare services for low-income Federal employees. 76 FR 45208 (July 28, 2011)