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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.
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.
Below you will find a stipulated agreement and question and answer leaflet regarding settlement of a prohibited practice charge filed by SEBAC regarding an issue that arose in August 2011. The issue was that some state employees were allowed to retire with 25 or more years of service, but they had not yet reached the age of 55.
Some basic facts:
For those active state employees who thought they should have received a HEP Chronic Care Bonus, the Comptroller’s Office has set up process for members to report non-payment.
Employees should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-702-3560 (this is a voice mail box for HEP issues). They should email or leave in the voice mailbox their name, employee ID number, phone number and indicate that they did not receive a HEP payment.
The Revised 2011 SEBAC Agreement provided for current employees who retired after July 1, 2022:
Normal Retirement eligibility increases from Age 60 and 25 years of Benefit Service or Age 62 and 10 years of Benefit Service to Age 63 Wage and 25 Years of Benefit Service or Age 65 and 10 years of Benefit Service. This change affects all years of service earned on or after July 1, 2011. By July 1, 2013, current employees may make a one-time irrevocable election to begin paying the actuarial cost of maintaining the normal retirement eligibility that exist in the present plan which is scheduled to change on July 1, 2022. The cost shall be established by the Plan’s actuaries and shall be communicated to employees by the Retirement Division. Such election shall be made on a form acceptable to the Retirement Commission and shall indicate the employee’s election to participate or not to participate. In the event the employee fails to make an election, he/she shall not be eligible to participate. Click Here for the calculator to determine the cost of such service.