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Q&A: 10 best federal benefits for same-sex marriages

Steve Doster
by Steve Doster, The Garrett Network  (@dosterfinancial)

The Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June 2013. That means married same-sex couples now qualify for the 1100+ federal benefits that were previously denied to them.

READ: What LGBT couples should know about merging finances

We can’t go through them all, so here are my 10 best federal benefits for married same-sex couples:

  1. Same-sex couples can utilize all the Social Security strategies and benefits offered to married couples. Most of you may not fully understand what this means, but believe me when I say “this is a very big deal."
  2. A surviving spouse will continue receiving benefits from their deceased spouse’s pension. This is for all pensions that have a survivor benefit: military, federal, state, county and private-sector companies.
  3. IRA and Roth IRA contributions can be made for a non-working spouse.
  4. A joint federal tax return can be filed for a couple rather than submitting two individual tax returns.
  5. A surviving spouse will not have to immediately begin withdrawing from a deceased spouse’s retirement accounts creating unnecessary taxable income.
  6. No more paying taxes on the value of employer provided health insurance for an employee’s spouse.
  7. A surviving spouse will no longer have to worry about paying estate taxes due to the unlimited marital deduction (this is what the Supreme Court case was about).
  8. A spouse now qualifies for the Family Medical Leave Act allowing them to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for their for their sick or disabled spouse.
  9. Property transferred between spouses because of divorce is no longer subject to income or gift tax. And alimony is now deductible for the person making the payments.
  10. Retirement accounts accumulated during a marriage can be divided at divorce. This protects a non-working spouse if they are a stay-at-home parent and the marriage ends in divorce.

 

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Steve is president and founder of Doster Financial Planning, a commission-free firm based on San Diego, CA. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional with an MBA fom Arizona State University and a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Arizona. Steve is proud to say he doesn’t sell financial products or earn commissions on the advice he provides to clients. His primary goal is to educate people to understand and select the best ways to achieve their unique financial future.