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Senators Shaheen and Hassan Join Call to Ensure All Eligible Same-Sex Couples Receive Pension Survivor Benefits | US Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire – Senator Jeanne Shaheen

December 14, 2021

** The Senators Urge Treasury, IRS to Revise Old Guidance that Permits Retirement Plans to Discriminate Against Same-Sex Couples **

** Senators: “We should not let the echoes of the bigotry that robbed so many people of the right to marry for so long rob them once again after they have lost their loved ones.” **

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined 43 of their Senate colleagues in calling on the Biden administration to revise current guidance that has led to members of the LGBTQIA+ community being denied pension survivor benefits after losing their life partner. 

The letter to Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service Charles Rettig calls for action to address the fact that some retirement plans are refusing to deem same-sex marriages as having met the one-year requirement necessary to be eligible for survivor benefits in situations where the couples were legally barred from marrying within one-year of the participant’s death. The Social Security Administration recently took action to stop such obstacles from denying people survivor benefits through Social Security, and the Senators urge the IRS to take similar action to ensure that individuals aren’t denied pension survivor benefits due to discrimination.

“We write to urge you to reconsider the guidance issued under the Obama Administration that permits certain qualified retirement plans to discriminate against providing survivor benefits to same-sex couples.  We should not let the echoes of the bigotry that robbed so many people of the right to marry for so long rob them once again after they have lost their loved ones,” wrote the Senators.

“When the Supreme Court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage, tens of thousands of Americans rushed to get married. These LGBTQ+ Americans had been in committed relationships for years—some, for decades—and were finally able to have their love recognized under the law and receive all of the benefits that come with marriage. However, in a painful reminder of the inequality these couples have long faced, some in same-sex relationships who tragically lost their partner shortly after being married or before they were able to legally marry have also been kept from receiving survivor benefits. For these surviving spouses or partners, difficulties arise where access to benefits depends on the length of their marriage.”

Full text of the letter below and PDF HERE.

Dear Secretary Yellen and Commissioner Rettig: 

We write to urge you to reconsider the guidance issued under the Obama Administration that permits certain qualified retirement plans to discriminate against providing survivor benefits to same-sex couples.  We should not let the echoes of the bigotry that robbed so many people of the right to marry for so long rob them once again after they have lost their loved ones. 

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Source: https://www.shaheen.senate.gov/news/press/senators-shaheen-and-hassan-join-call-to-ensure-all-eligible-same-sex-couples-receive-pension-survivor-benefits

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