Wednesday, July 10, 2013

New Rules

If you're near retirement age and live in California one of the other thirteen states with legal, same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court's rulings in U.S. v. Windsor (where Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was found to be unconstitutional) and Hollingsworth, et al. v. Perry (where the Court's ruling effectively restored the legality of same-sex marriage in California) make some significant changes to the pension and Social Security playing fields, to wit:

For plan sponsors in the 14 states where same-sex marriages are legally recognized, same-sex and opposite-sex spouses must be treated equally under ERISA law, and are entitled to the same spousal benefits. This includes, but is not limited to, the following changes:

1) A same-sex spouse is now entitled to a participant's death benefits under a retirement plan.

2) For Cash Balance and defined benefit plans, a same-sex spouse is entitled to a qualified joint and survivor annuity (QJSA) or qualified pre-retirement survivor annuity (QPSA.)

3) In all retirement plans where a spouse is the default beneficiary, same-sex spouses will be recognized, and they must consent to any changes to beneficiary designations.

4) A same-sex spouse now qualifies as an alternate payee under a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO)
Plan participants can receive hardship distributions for a same-sex spouse's medical, tuition or funeral expenses.

5) Spousal consent for loans and other qualified plan distributions applies equally to same-sex spouses. ...

And, of course, there are all the improvements in Social Security payouts for same-sex married couples. ...

TAG has been fighting for gay rights and same-sex marriage for decades. TAG President Tom Sito advocated for pension rights for same-sex couples twenty years ago, and we've been pushing ever since.

More recently, the Animation Guild pushed Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan survivor benefits for the spouse of a dying member, and ultimately secured them. Our stance is, anytime you can lessen somebody's financial pain, anytime you can make the playing field a bit smoother and gentler, that's a good thing.


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