Yes you read the title correctly. On December 23rd President Bush delivered a holiday gift to lesbian and gay couples when he signed the Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008. The new law makes it mandatory for businesses to roll over retirement benefits to a same-sex partner in the event of the employee’s death. Previously, employers could decline and surviving same-sex partners would have to pay tax on the inheritance of the deceased partner’s retirement savings. Legally married opposite-sex couples automatically avoid that tax penalty.
Many LGBT organizations, including PFLAG National, applauded this important step towards equality. The legislation ensures necessary protections for lesbian and gay couples when planning for retirement. Lesbian and gay couples experience many barriers during their golden years. One of the most ostensible barriers is the denial of Social Security spousal and survivor benefits. Thankfully, the President agreed that the tax code should not cut out our partners from their hard-earned retirement savings.
- J. Rhodes Perry