Civil Union Benefits

Civil Union Benefits

Connecticut’s Civil Union statute, which took effect October 1, 2005, provides that parties to a civil union are entitled to all the same benefits under the law as married couples. Any benefit that is provided by state law, policy, or collective bargaining agreement is covered by the new law. Below is a summary of the impact on the law as to employee benefits.

To Apply for Civil Union Status
Employees should contact the Human Resources Department. Employees will be asked to submit a photocopy of their Civil Union license. Employees who have filed a Civil Union license, which has been accepted by the Office of State Comptroller – Retirement and Benefit Services Division, will be eligible for the following benefits.

Tax Implications Regarding Health Care Benefits

Civil Union
The employee’s premium, to add the civil partner to the health care benefits, will be treated on an after-tax basis for federal taxes, and on a pre-taxed basis for state taxes.1

The State’s premium, to cover the cost of the added civil partner to the health care benefits, will be treated on a taxable basis for federal taxes, and on a non-taxable basis for state taxes.2

Civil Union-Qualified
Civil Union-Qualified: means the employee attests in writing to providing more than fifty percent of a civil union partner’s financial support.

The employee’s premium, to add the civil partner to the health care benefits, will be treated on an after-tax basis for federal taxes, and on a pre-taxed basis for state taxes.1

The State’s premium, to cover the cost of the added civil partner to the health care benefits, will be treated on a non-taxable basis for federal taxes, and on a non-taxable basis for state taxes.2

  1. After-tax basis means the premium amount is considered part of the employee’s gross salary for tax purposes and standard deductions apply. Pre-taxed basis means the premium amount is not considered part of the employee’s taxable gross salary for tax purposes.
  2. Taxable basis means the state’s premium amount will be added to the employee’s gross salary for tax purposes and standard deductions will apply. Non-taxable basis means the state’s premium amount is not added to the employee’s gross salary for tax purposes.

Cobra Benefits
Enrolled civil union partners and their dependent children will be deemed qualified beneficiaries under Cobra regulations and will be afforded the same benefits as eligible dependents in a civil marriage.

Pension Benefits
(Applies to employees in the State Employees Retirement System Plan only.)

Regarding pension benefits, essentially two areas are impacted under the civil union statute. These areas are pre-retirement death benefits and spouse waivers under State Employees Retirement System.

To invest before-tax dollars in a TSA, you sign an agreement to have your annual salary reduced via payroll deduction. This amount is then sent to the TSA, where it is invested in individual supplemental retirement annuities. The Internal Revenue Code limits the amount of income you may tax-defer. Your retirement plan, tax sheltered annuity or deferred compensation plan contributions made in prior years, age, and date of employment are all factors in determining these limits. The 1986 Tax Reform Act introduced new dollar limits on salary reductions.

  1. Pre-retirement Death Benefits: The pre-retirement death benefit is a feature of State Employees Retirement System. This provision is intended to protect the spouse of an active state employee who become deceased while otherwise eligible to retire, or having accrued twenty-five (25) years of service regardless of age. Where an active employee becomes deceased under these circumstances, State Employees Retirement System presumes that such employee elected to retire on the day before his or her death having elected an allowance which approximates a fifty (50) percent spouse option: pre-retirement death benefits are further conditioned upon the employee and spouse having been married for at least a year prior to such employee’s death. As a result of the civil union statute pre-retirement death benefits will now be extended to civil union partners, provided a Civil Union license was accepted by and filed with the Office of State Comptroller – Retirement and Benefit Services Division for at least one (1) year prior to the employee’s death.
  2. Spouse Waivers: Upon retirement, a State Employee Retirement System member who has been married for at least one (1) year must be obtain a waiver from his or her spouse when the said member elects an allowance that does not guarantee lifetime pension income protection for such spouse. As a function of the civil union statute, a State Employee Retirement System member who has a civil union license accepted by and filed with the Office of State Comptroller – Retirement and Benefit Services Division for at least one (1) year prior to retirement will be required to obtain a waiver when electing an income option that does not afford lifetime protection to his or her civil partner. Where the requisite waiver is not obtained, the Retirement and Benefit Services Division will impose a fifty (50) percent option in favor of the civil partner.

Employees participating in the State Employees Retirement System seeking pension protection for their civil union partner should submit a copy of their civil union license to the Human Resources Department.

Tuition Waiver Benefits
Applies to teaching faculty participating in American Association of University Professors union (AAUP), administrators participating in State University Organization of Administrative Faculty union (SUOAF-AFSCME), and Management & Confidential Professional Personnel.

Employees in a Civil Union will be eligible for tuition waiver benefits for their eligible partner and dependent children. Please refer to the tuition waiver/course privilege section in your union contract for details on tuition waivers benefits.

Federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Federal Family & Medical Leave Act is a federal law allowing employees a leave of absence, for different qualifying events, without retribution of losing their job. Under the Civil Union statute, FMLA benefits extend to the employee in events which apply to the employee and dependent children, but are not extended to qualifying events that involve the civil union partner.

State of Connecticut Family & Leave Plan
The State of Connecticut has a similar leave plan which entitles employees to a leave of absence (paid/unpaid) for different qualifying events, without retribution of losing their job. The Connecticut Family & Medical Leave Plan (C.G.S. 5-248a) is a state benefit which applies to qualifying events for the employee, their dependent children, and events which involve the civil union partner.

To qualify for the Connecticut Family & Medical Leave Plan employees must have permanent status with the State of Connecticut.

Qualifying Events:

  1. The birth of employee’s child or adoption of a child by the employee
  2. The “serious illness” of a child, spouse or parent
  3. The “serious illness” of the employee

Under the Connecticut Family & Medical Leave Plan, employees are entitled to a maximum of twenty-four (24) weeks of unpaid leave within a two year period. The state entitlement is applied after the employee has exhausted any sick leave accruals that may be applicable. The State’s policy is to allow the substitution of personal leave and vacation accruals; however, this will not extend the 24-week entitlement period. Where possible, leave time granted under the Connecticut Family & Medical Leave Plan will run concurrently with the federal FMLA entitlement.

Connecticut Department of Revenue Services – State Income Tax CT-W4 form.
New for 2006 State Income Withholding Tax – Employees in Civil Union – An employee who is a party to a civil union recognized under Connecticut law should complete a new Form CT-W4 (effective 1/1/06). By choosing the filing status of civil union filing jointly or civil union filing separately, the employee will have the correct amount of Connecticut income tax withheld from his or her wages. The wages subject to Connecticut income tax withholding are the same as the wages subject to federal income tax withholding, determined as if the employee were married.

For example:
An employer provides health insurance coverage for employees and their families. For federal income tax withholding purposes, the coverage for an employee’s spouse is a nontaxable fringe benefit, but the cost of coverage for an employee’s civil union partner is taxable income to the employee. For Connecticut income tax withholding purposes, the benefit for the civil union partner is treated in the same manner as a benefit for a spouse; therefore the coverage for the civil union partner is not taxable.

Out-of-state same-sex marriages (as opposed to civil unions) have no legal significance and are not recognized for any purpose in Connecticut, including Connecticut income tax purposes.

Changes in Civil Union Status
Where a civil union license has been accepted by and filed with the Office of State Comptroller – Retirement and Benefit Services Division, the statute requires the employee to provide notice of any change in the status of his or her civil union. Employees should contact the Human Resources Department of any change in the status of his or her civil union status.

Employees seeking further information, or interested in applying for benefits under the Civil Union statute should contact the Human Resources Department.

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