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Same-sex partners of federal workers can start applying for benefits next month

By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 2, 2010; B03

The same-sex partners of gay and lesbian federal workers can start applying next month for long-term health-care insurance, the Office of Personnel Management said Tuesday.

President Obama signed a memo last June extending some benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers, including access to the government's Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program. On Tuesday, OPM essentially broadened the definition of relatives eligible for the program to include same-sex domestic partners of eligible federal workers, U.S. Postal Service workers and federal retirees.

OPM will not extend access to opposite-sex domestic partners, because they can obtain the insurance through marriage, "an option not currently available to same-sex domestic partners," the agency wrote in Tuesday's Federal Register.

OPM said same-sex couples can visit www.ltcfeds.com to complete a form that states they are each other's domestic partner and intend to stay together indefinitely. The federal worker must submit the form to their employer. Couples will not be required to provide further proof of the relationship, OPM said, because that "would impose a greater burden on domestic partners than other qualified relatives." The agency said it does not ask opposite-sex couples for bank statements or other proof of marriage.

Tuesday's ruling applies only to FLTCIP, no other federal health-care or insurance programs. Same-sex partners must answer the same questions about their health as other qualified relatives, and are not guaranteed to be approved for coverage. Eligible federal workers do not need to be enrolled in FLTCIP in order for a same-sex partner to apply or be eligible, OPM said.

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