President Bush signed a bill into law last week that, among other conditions, requires businesses to transfer retirement benefits to the same-sex partners of their employees in case of an employee’s death, like the procedure that is utilized for heterosexual married couples.
Both the U.S. House and Senate approved the Worker, Retiree and Employee Recovery Act Dec. 10 and 11, respectively, and Bush signed the legislation Dec. 23.
The new law, which instituted changes to the Pension Protection Act of 2006, was meant to provide temporary relief to employers and retirees grappling with the current economy. The PPA required that if an employee dies, his or her nonmarried partner, including those of the same sex, can roll over the employee’s retirement benefits directly to an individual retirement account to avoid a tax penalty.
This stipulation was widely interpreted to be optional, but WRERA reinforces the provision.
“This legislation secures much-needed protection for lesbian and gay couples,” said Joe Solmonese, Human Rights Campaign president. “Protecting our hard-earned retirement savings is even more crucial to us, and until now, the tax code made it that much harder.”
Jen Colletta can be reached at [email protected].