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Special Open Enrollment For State Employees Following The Supreme Court’s Invalidation of the Defense of Marriage Act

On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) that effectively barred samesex married couples from being recognized as “spouses” for purposes of federal law. As a result of that ruling, the Health Care Cost Containment Committee has agreed to a special open enrollment period that will run from July 9, 2013 until September 13, 2013, to give state employees and retired state employees in a same sex marriage the opportunity to elect for health insurance. Prior to the Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA, State employees were required to pay Federal taxes and social security taxes on the benefits of their same sex spouse. The federal income tax burden may have discouraged some employees from enrolling a same sex spouse in health benefit coverage.

Before the Supreme Court’s ruling, heterosexual married couples were able to provide health benefits to a spouse on a tax-free basis but samesex married couples were not. This meant that state employees or retirees providing health benefit coverage for a same sex spouse under the state’s health plan paid the premium for the spouse’s coverage on a post-tax basis and were taxed on the imputed value of benefits provided to a same-sex spouse. For the roughly 800 state employees and retirees currently covering a same sex spouse, the Comptroller’s Office is working on modifying the records on a global basis through CORE-CT to adjust premium shares from a post-tax to a pre-tax basis and to modify federal income and Social Security taxes year to date. The Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Labor are expected to issue guidance concerning how the Supreme Court’s decision will affect the administration of some 1,000 federal laws. It is presently unclear how the ruling will impact federal income tax returns filed in prior years or whether the IRS will establish specific procedures for same-sex couples to seek refunds based on filing status or payment of federal income and Social Security taxes on the imputed value health benefits to a same-sex spouse.

Special Enrollment Period – The special open enrollment period began July 9, 2013 and end on September 13, 2013. During this period, enrollment is limited to state employees and retirees who did not previously enroll their same sex spouse. You will be required to provide a copy of your marriage certificate at the time of enrollment.

CSEA will work to provide further information on this subject as it becomes available.

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Raises Set to Begin For Many State Employees

For those state employee bargaining units that voted in favor of the 2011 SEBAC agreement, raises are set to begin August 26th and should show up in the September 20th paycheck. The 2011 SEBAC agreement provides (3%) increase plus step increases, annual increments (or their equivalent) in those units that have them as part of their collective bargaining agreement for FY 2013-14, FY 2014-15 and FY 2015-16.

These raises are happening at a time when other workers around the state are facing a sluggish economy and many in the private sector are facing the potential for layoffs. It is important to remember that these raises come after two years of wage freezes and other concessions that state employees agreed to during the darkest fiscal period in a generation in order to help the State of Connecticut balance its budget. These past few years of wage freezes have been difficult, but state employees are now set to receive 9% in wage increases over the next 3 years.  Typically, these wage increases would happen on July 1st, but the wage increases for FY 2013-14 have been delayed by 3 pay periods due to wage increases paid to employees in FY 2011-12 prior to ratification of the 2011 agreement.

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