Following the lead of the IRS  in Revenue Ruling 2013-17, the Department of Labor issued DOL Technical Release No. 2013-04 on September 18, 2013 providing that, where the Secretary of Labor has authority to regulate with respect to the limited provisions of ERISA where the term “spouse” is used, “spouse” will be read to refer to any individuals who are lawfully married under any state law, including same-sex spouses, and without regard to whether their state of domicile recognizes same-sex marriage. Thus, for ERISA purposes as well as federal tax purposes, an employee benefit plan participant who marries a person of the same sex in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage will continue to be treated as married even if the couple moves to a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Neither the DOL Technical Release, nor the IRS Revenue Ruling answered the question of the retroactive application of these rulings, although the IRS Revenue Ruling states that future guidance will address retroactivity. (See our earlier article regarding the IRS’ guidance.)

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Photo of Monique Warren Monique Warren

Monique Warren is a principal in the White Plains, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She counsels employers on employee benefits compliance and administrative matters, represents employers to government agencies, and prepares plan documents and related employee communications.

Monique’s expertise includes health…

Monique Warren is a principal in the White Plains, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She counsels employers on employee benefits compliance and administrative matters, represents employers to government agencies, and prepares plan documents and related employee communications.

Monique’s expertise includes health and welfare plans as well as retirement plans. She has extensive experience helping plan sponsors navigate COBRA, HIPAA, and other ERISA and Internal Revenue Code provisions and correct compliance issues. A significant part of her practice currently focuses on defending employers in federal investigations of their group health plans as well as assisting government contractors with fulfilling fringe benefit obligations. She also has extensive experience helping retirement plan sponsors comply with ERISA fiduciary requirements and the Code’s qualification requirements and correcting plan errors under the Department of Labor’s and Internal Revenue Service’s voluntary correction programs.