BOSTON—Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz would like to alert the GLBT community about an important deadline is about to pass. A change in Massachusetts law signed by Governor Patrick on June 19, 2012 will provide same-sex couples flexibility in buying back time for retirement benefit purposes—but same-sex couples must act by tomorrow.
As part of pension reform legislation passed in 2011, same-sex married couples who could not share retirement benefits prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage may now seek to include their spouse in their retirement plans, but they must pay back the cost difference between an individual and family retirement plan. The legislation included a 6-month deadline to make these payments. This tight deadline was prohibitive for many couples.
The new law signed on June 19, 2012 gives retirees five years to make these payments, and also provides local retirement boards the option of exceeding the five year limit.
However, the provision in the pension reform law allowing same-sex couples to share in retirement benefits accumulated before the May 17, 2004 legalization of same-sex marriage expires on July 1, 2012. In order to apply to receive those benefits, couples must apply before July 1, 2012.
"This extension in payback times is a good opportunity for couples who previously weren’t allowed to share retirement benefits,” said Senator Chang-Díaz. “It’s important that we all help get the word out about this looming deadline. Couples must act now. Please contact the retirement board immediately if you are interested in learning more.”
The state retirement board can be reached at 617-367-7770. Please have ready your marriage certificate and birth certificate of your spouse.