Same Sex Marriage in Hawaii – Update on Benefits for Same Sex Couples

On November 13, 2013, Governor Abercrombie signed the Marriage Equality Act of 2013 into law. This new law takes effect today and provides same-sex couples with the right to enter into a marriage that will be recognized by the State of Hawaii. Under this Act, the term “spouse” will be construed in a gender-neutral manner and a marriage will be permitted between two same sex individuals without regard to their gender.

What Changes Will Take Effect Starting Today? 

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
    • An employee in a same-sex marriage who lives in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages will have the right under the FMLA to take leave for any of the following reasons:
      • Care for a same-sex spouse with a serious health condition
      • Care for a new child born to, adopted with, or fostered with a same-sex spouse
      • Qualifying exigencies related to the deployment of a same-sex spouse to active duty
      • Care for a same-sex spouse with a serious injury or illness
    • For same-sex spouses both working with RCUH: Restricted to a total of 12 weeks of combined leave for the purpose of either: (1) the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child or (2) to care for the employee’s parent with a serious health condition.
    • Request for FMLA: FMLA Request Form
  • Health Insurance
    • Same-sex spouse can now be added onto employee’s insurance plan as a dependent based on a qualifying event (note: this must be done within 30 days of marriage taking place).
    • Same-sex spouse insurance coverage will be on a pre-tax basis.
    • Request to add on spouse: Group Benefits Enrollment/Change Form
  • COBRA Coverage
    • Same-sex spouse will now be considered a “qualified beneficiary” and will be provided formal COBRA notices and have an opportunity to continue health coverage after a COBRA qualifying event if such a need arises.
  • Retirement Plans (with the change in the definition of spouse, husband and wives in a same sex marriage will be provided the same benefits as those in a opposite sex marriage)
  • State/Federal Tax Withholdings
    • The IRS will allow same sex couples to amend previously filed federal tax returns (generally, 2010, 2011, and 2012) in order to claim to claim a refund.
    • The IRS will not require couples to amend if they do not want to.
    • Couples living in states that recognize same sex marriage may be able to determine if they would be due a federal refund by referring to the information used to file their state returns.
    • Couples living in states that do not recognize same sex marriage may want to consult a tax preparer to determine if they qualify for a refund.
    • Request to change tax withholdings: Change in Employee Self Service
    • Please contact RCUH Payroll at [email protected] to file amendments to federal tax returns.

If you have any questions, please email RCUH Benefits at [email protected].