EBSA guidance on same-sex couples for retirement plans mirrors IRS rules

Employers wondering how the Supreme Court decision that voided parts of the Defense of Marriage Act affects their retirement plans got some clarity Wednesday from the Department of Labor.

According to guidance issued by the Employee Benefits Security Administration, the terms “spouse” and “marriage” apply to same-sex couples legally married in any state or foreign jurisdiction that recognizes such marriages, regardless of where they now live.

The EBSA guidance mirrors place-of-celebration rules issued Aug. 29 by the Internal Revenue Service, which said such same-sex couples are considered married for federal tax purposes. The IRS rules became effective Sept. 16, but further guidance will be issued on retroactive application to retirement plans.

Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said in a statement that his department will issue additional guidance in the coming months after consulting with the Department of Justice and other federal agencies.