Notice to NHRS Members and Retirees Concerning Benefits for Same-sex Spouses

On June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (“DOMA”) is unconstitutional.  Since the State of New Hampshire is one of 12 states that recognizes same-sex marriages, this ruling means that differential treatment of legally recognized same-sex couples is no longer permissible with respect to the administration of member and retiree benefits provided by the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS, the retirement system).

This change will require NHRS to review its plan document (RSA 100-A) and its current policies and procedures pertaining to spousal benefits.  They anticipate that federal regulators and the IRS will be issuing guidance on this issue, given the significance of this ruling; of particular importance will be the determination as to whether or not the invalidation of DOMA will be retroactive, or if the ruling will be administered prospectively.

NHRS is undertaking an extensive analysis of the court’s opinion, and are working closely with their outside fiduciary and legislative counsel, which will be providing guidance to them, as well as its other public pension plan clients.  In order to be prepared to extend these benefits to eligible same-sex couples, NHRS is reaching out to those members who believe they may be eligible for benefits that were previously unavailable due to DOMA.  If you are an NHRS member or retiree currently in a same-sex marriage, please submit the “Same-Sex Marriage Benefit Review Form,” which can be found at: https://surveys.nhrs.org/index.php/458316/  

Completing the form will assist NHRS in expediting implementation once the remaining legal and administrative issues have been clarified and addressed.

For additional information, see:
http://www.nhrs.org/News/Files/06_26_13_DOMA_Decision.pdf

If you have any questions, please contact Marty Karlon,  Public Information Officer, (603) 410-3594; public_relations@nhrs.org

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