Marriage benefits

Same-sex married couples may apply for changes to their state benefits plans through Nov. 14, the state Department of Employee Trust Funds announced today.

JOHN HART -- State Journal

The Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds said on Tuesday it has opened a 30-day benefits enrollment period for members who are married to same-sex spouses.

Applications for plan changes should be submitted to a member’s employer by the end of the business day on Nov. 14, according to a web page the department has established.

The page also describes how those who have previously registered as domestic partners will be affected.

Some of the ETF guidance on pension and insurance benefits available to public-sector employees and their families:

Anyone who misses the Nov. 14 deadline will need to wait until the next open enrollment period or until the time of a qualifying event such as a birth or adoption.

Hundreds of marriages that were officiated from June 6-13 — after the initial federal court ruling in the case and before the ruling was stayed — will be recognized, as will those entered into outside Wisconsin in places where same-sex marriage was legal.

Members who have previously paid extra taxes to include partners and family members in their health insurance plans should contact their employers or attorneys about how the transition may be handled. The state Department of Revenue also supplies tax information for same-sex spouses.

The department won’t require a marriage certificate in order to add family members to a benefit plan. Members just need to submit a health insurance change application form or make an online request for changes. It’s possible that employers could request additional documentation.

Married status may provide an opportunity to add a family member to a life insurance plan or to make a limited increase in the coverage level, if this is the first time an insured member had a spouse, domestic partner or child to insure. Members who filed domestic partnership affidavits with ETF and didn’t select spouse and dependent coverage may not add the coverage now as a result of the change to married status.

Being married impacts Wisconsin Retirement System health insurance eligibility, retirement options and death benefits. The department suggests contacting an ETF representative to learn more.


Steven Verburg is a reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal covering state politics with a focus on science and the environment as well as military and veterans issues.