Saturday, August 19, 2006

Bush Signs Pension Protection Act Providing Benefits For Same-Sex Couples

President George Bush (R) signed the Pension Protection Act yesterday, which includes two new important benefits for same-sex couples. The Human Rights Campaign reports, "Working without fanfare and very closely with members of Congress for more than three years, the Human Rights Campaign secured two important protections that assist gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans in the Pension Protection Act signed into law on Aug. 17, 2006.

The first key benefit change will allow a transfer of individual retirement benefits to a domestic partner or other non-spouse beneficiary. Specifically, the surviving partner (or other non-spouse beneficiary) will now be able to transfer his or her deceased partner’s retirement funds into an Individual Retirement Account and either draw down the benefits over a five-year period, or over his or her own life expectancy. This benefit has been limited to married couples in the past. Same-sex partners were forced to immediately withdraw the funds and incur substantial tax charges.

A second key benefit change relates to hardship situations. Same-sex couples will now be allowed to draw on retirement benefits in the case of a qualifying medical or financial emergency. In the past, only same-sex couples were allowed the benefit of accessing funds during an emergency.

It's important to remember that your same-sex partner can only benefit from these new changes if he/she is named as a beneficiary of your retirement plan. These changes are a big step towards leveling the playing field for the estate planning choices of same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples. The long-term benefit of these changes for same-sex couples cannot be overstated.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was a hard-fought under-the-radar victory.

I almost want to keep it quiet...because if Bush's hard-right supporters discover it, they may try to either make a campaign issue out of it, or rescind it.

Isn't it a sad statement, to want to remain quiet about such a huge victory? Such are our times.