Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC)
OWCP to Grant Augmented FECA Compensation Based on Claimant's Same Sex Spouse
On June 26, 2013, in United States v. Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Section 3 of DOMA limited the definition of spouse to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife, and as a result, FECA benefits were not available based on a claimant's same sex spouse. The FECA program has long followed the policy that the validity of a marriage is determined by the law of the jurisdiction where the marriage took place. See FECA Program Memorandum 156 (issued May 30, 1972). Thus, consistent with our existing procedures and the Supreme Court's decision in Windsor, claimants who can establish a same-sex marriage valid in the jurisdiction where it took place will be eligible for FECA benefits based on that marriage regardless of their place of residence or domicile. This change impacts augmented compensation, survivor benefits, death gratuity, schedule awards unpaid at death, and other benefits as discussed in the attached guidance: FECA Bulletin No. 14-01: Administering Benefits Based on Same Sex Marriage Following Windsor.