Implementation of Overseas Benefits for Same-Sex Domestic Partners of CDC Civil Service Employees Assigned Abroad
SUBJECT: IMPLEMENTATION OF OVERSEAS BENEFITS FOR SAME-SEX DOMESTIC PARTNERS OF CDC CIVIL SERVICE EMPLOYEES ASSIGNED ABROAD
SUMMARY: This message outlines procedures for CDC civil service employees assigned overseas to obtain recently approved benefits and allowances for same- sex domestic partners in accordance with ref a.
1. Effective the date of this message, in accordance with a recent HHS policy change, certain CDC employees assigned to overseas duty stations are eligible for enhanced benefits for their same-sex domestic partner (SSDP). Specifically, documented SSDPs are defined as family members under ref b. Accordingly, the following benefits are available:
a. Inclusion of one SSDP on employee’s travel orders for transfer to/from posts abroad, including shipment of household effects.
b. Approved SSDPs and his/her accompanying dependent children may be included in the calculation of overseas allowances, including Living Quarters Allowance, Post (Cost of Living Allowance), Education Allowance, and other allowances as provided for in the Standardized Regulations (Government Civilians, Foreign Areas) published by the Department of State (the DSSR) and available at: http://aoprals.state.gov/content.asp?content_id=231& menu_id=92
c. Inclusion of SSDP and his/her accompanying dependent children as a family member for emergency evacuation and subsistence payments during emergency evacuations from posts abroad.
d. If the SSDP or dependent child is a United States citizen, diplomatic or official passports based on the type of passport issued to the sponsored employee.
e. Inclusion of the SSDP and his/her accompanying dependent children in family size calculations for the purpose of making overseas housing assignments.
f. Family member preference for employment for overseas local hire positions abroad under State Department employment authorities and regulations (i.e., FMA and PSA hires) – This preferences does not extend, however, to civil service and other positions CDC processes through HHS or CDC headquarters HR processes.
g. SSDP and his/her accompanying dependent children use of State Department health units abroad, subject to medical clearance and State Department regulations.
h. SSDP and his/her accompanying dependent children medical evacuation and payment of certain additional medical expenses, subject to medical clearance and State Department regulations.
i. Emergency travel for SSDP to visit gravely ill or injured family members and visitation upon death of family members, under CDC emergency visitation policies and procedures.
j. SSDP and his/her accompanying dependent children inclusion in Home Leave and Rest & Recuperation travel based on the sponsoring employee’s eligibility.
2. Which CDC employees are covered under this new policy?
This new policy covers CDC Civil Service employees (appointed under either Title 5 and Title 42) assigned to an overseas duty station.
Specifically EXCLUDED from coverage under this policy change are Commissioned Corps personnel, Locally Employed Staff hired in country or paid under a Local Compensation Plan, commercial contractors, grantees, and other individuals who are not CDC employees.
3. What is the date for implementation of this policy?
The effective date is the date of this message (December 8, 2010). All benefits will be paid on a prospective basis. To receive benefits, employees must complete a new SF-1190 and file a completed, signed affidavit.
4. Will opposite sex partners be covered under the new policy?
This policy is an implementation of the President’s directive which specifically calls for extension of benefits to same-sex partners.
5. Are the children of same sex partners covered as family members under this policy?
Yes. Provided that it is not contrary to an existing court order and the child is legally the child of the partner. The child must be unmarried and under 21 years of age or, regardless of age, are incapable of self-support. Eligible children include, in addition to natural offspring, step and adopted children and those under legal guardianship of the employee or of the SSDP when such children are expected to be under such legal guardianship at least until they reach 21 years of age and when dependent upon and normally residing with the guardian. Any child or children of a SSDP of an employee is to be deemed for this purpose a stepchild of the employee.
6. Will SSDPs and their children fall under Chief of Mission authority?
Yes, SSDPs of assignees to U.S. missions abroad which are included under this policy will be under COM authority while at an overseas post (including for the purposes of authorized and ordered evacuation from post and adherence to Security Awareness and Contact Reporting Policy) to the same degree as other family members. (Note: CDC detailees to International Organizations and their SSDPs are not assigned abroad under COM authority.)
7. What are the steps needed to obtain benefits as a SSDP?
To obtain benefits for an employee’s SSDP:
(1) the employee assigned or being assigned overseas must complete a notarized (by notary or embassy consular officer) affidavit of eligibility for benefits and obligations. A copy of the affidavit form for completion and signature may be obtained from email@example.com;
(2) the employee must complete an updated SF-1190 to include the SSDP. The employee will use the form SF- 1190 to list any and all his/her accompanying dependent children (and their ages) of the partner for whom travel orders or overseas allowances and benefits will be requested along with any applicable court orders that are related to custody of the children;
(3) forward the completed SF-1190 and affidavit with CDC Global Assignments Management Team which will coordinate with the appropriate HR generalist in Atlanta;
(4) the SSDP and his/her accompanying dependent children must also have or obtain a valid medical clearance (or administrative waiver) for the post of assignment. Those already at post should follow the procedures for a newly acquired dependent – they will be given access to the overseas health unit for up to 90 days pending completion of their medical clearance. If the SSDP or his/her accompanying dependent children do not receive a clearance or waiver, they will be ineligible under State Department regulations for health program access. (NOTE: It is important to remember that SSDPs should have or acquire health insurance as the Government acts only as a secondary payer in event of overseas hospitalization.)
8. How will post and Embassy management be notified of the approval of a SSDP for benefits? CDC will transmit a cable to the servicing embassy announcing the inclusion of the SSDP and children, as appropriate, as family members.
9. May an employee have both a SSDP and a spouse?
No. The two are mutually exclusive. Neither employee nor partner may be married to any other person.
10. May an employee have multiple or serial same sex partners?
No. An employee may have one same sex partner per overseas tour. For this purpose, a tour is defined as the period of time between when the employee arrives at an overseas post on transfer travel orders until final departure on travel orders or Home Leave/Round Trip, whichever occurs sooner. In unforeseen and extraordinary circumstances, exceptions to this limitation may be made by the Director of the Center for Global Health based on notarized affidavits from the employee.
11. What must be in the required affidavit?
Employees must file an notarized affidavit with CDC Global Assignments Management Team that requests allowable benefits for their partner. It must affirm that the employee and his/her SSDP:
(1) are each other’s sole SSDP and intend to remain committed to one another indefinitely;
(2) are at least 18 years of age and mentally competent to consent to contract;
(3) share responsibility for a significant measure of each other’s common welfare and financial obligations;
(4) are not married to, joined in civil union with, or domestic partners with anyone else;
(5) are same-sex domestic partners and not related in a way that would prohibit legal marriage in the state in which they are domiciled;
(6) will immediately report to CDC within 30 days after the death of the domestic partner or the dissolution of their domestic partnership arrangement
(7) understand that the same-sex domestic partner will be held to the same standards of conduct under HHS policy that apply to family members; and
(8) understand that falsification of information within the affidavit may constitute a criminal violation under 18 USC 1001 and may lead to disciplinary action.
12. May employees file for reimbursement if they traveled before the effective date?
Costs incurred for SSDPs prior to the effective date are not reimbursable. There is no retroactivity provision prior to the date of implementation for this new policy.
13. May employees file for reimbursement if they traveled before they filed the affidavit? Yes, for travel on or after the effective date, if the employee files an affidavit and revised SF-1190 by January 15, 2011, for a partnership that continues in existence from the date of the travel to the time of the filing of the affidavit. An employee may request reimbursement up to the amount that would have been paid by CDC if he or she had filed the affidavit and SF-1190 in advance of the travel and provided the ticket was purchased in accordance with the provisions of the Fly America Act. Before filing for reimbursement, the employee must file an affidavit and revised SF-1190 and have updated travel orders. This exception expires January 15, 2011.
14. Are SSDPs eligible for diplomatic visas to the host country?
Issuance of diplomatic visas depends on the host country. The Department of State has been engaging in discussions with other governments regarding visa issuance, with the goal of securing diplomatic visas for SSDPs in as many countries as possible. (See State Department regulations 7 FAM 1390.) Note that some countries have laws forbidding SSDPs. Therefore, there is no assurance of a visa by the host country. As with spouses and other family members, it is incumbent on the employee to determine the suitability of a prospective posting.
15. How will SSDPs who are legally married in one of the United States or another country that recognizes marriage between same-sex partners be handled?
CDC provides benefits to SSDPs and imposes obligations based only upon whether the employee files the required affidavit declaring an individual a SSDP, not upon whether or not a state may recognize the union of the SSDPs.
16. Does the package of benefits include extra weight for the UAB allowance?
Yes. SSDPs are eligible for the UAB allowance pursuant. If a SSDP’s UAB was shipped prior to the effective date, the employee will not be reimbursed. If a SSDP’s UAB was shipped on or after the effective date, but prior to the employee’s orders being amended, the employee may request amendment of travel orders and reimbursement for the cost up to the weight allowance. If an employee ships his/her SSDP’s UAB using the employee’s amended travel orders, the shipping services will be directly charged to CDC (thru the Bureau of the Public Debt) and reimbursement should not be necessary.
17. Are SSDPs eligible for UAB and HHE allowance after arrival at post?
Yes. The process of adding a partner to one’s orders will be the same as adding a spouse.
18. Are SSDPs eligible for Separate Maintenance Allowance?
Yes. See Standardized Regulations section 260 at http://aoprals.a.state.gov/content.asp?content_id=28 2&menu_id=86. For details of these changes see STATE 00067315. To apply for SMA, complete Form SF-1190 and submit to the CDC Global Assignments Management team.
19. Will the mail (pouch, APO, FPO, DPO) be extended to SSDPs and his/her accompanying dependent children?
Yes. In accordance with State Department regulations 14 FAM 700.
20. Will SSDPs and his/her accompanying dependent children have access to the Embassy health clinic? Yes. In accordance with State Department regulations 16 FAM 116 (medical program) and 16 FAM 531 (medical coverage limitations).
21. Will SSDPs and his/her accompanying dependent children be able to receive emergency medical care after an affidavit is submitted and before the partner receives his/her medical clearance?
Employees at post should follow the procedures for a newly acquired dependent – they will be given access to the overseas health unit for up to 90 days pending completion of their medical clearance. It is important to note that SSDPs and his/her accompanying dependent children must have health insurance as the Government acts only as a secondary payer in event of overseas hospitalization.
22. Can I obtain a waiver of medical clearance for my SSDP or dependent child?
In extraordinary situations or for religious purposes, in line with policy for other family members, an administrative waiver may be granted by the Director of the Center for Global Health in consultation with the employing program, the CDC Occupational Health Clinic, and the Department of State Office of Medical Services.
23. Will SSDPs be covered under the Federal Health Benefits Program?
No, not at this time. However, we are aware of one FEHB plan (The Foreign Service Benefit Plan) that offers members of the employees’ accompanying household a non-FEHB option for medical insurance coverage overseas. Employees should review the possible options for health coverage to determine which works best for their concerns.
24. What kind of medical coverage is provided to partners during medical evacuation (medevac)?
This depends on the type of medical evacuation. If it is a medical evacuation back to the U.S., it is the primary insurer’s responsibility. The Government does not act as secondary insurer in this case. If it is a medical evacuation to another overseas post or country, the specific provisions of an individual’s underlying insurance policy control the extent and conditions of medical coverage defined by the Department of the State. The primary insurer’s liability is determined by the terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions of the individual’s insurance policy with the primary insurer and the CDC’s liability as secondary payer is limited to the scope of the underlying policy and the co-pay amount not covered by the primary insurer as according to State Department regulations 16 FAM 116. For more information:http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/2115.pdf
Of course, as with employees and family members, the employee/family member/partner is principally responsible for their own medical care and costs. CDC only acts as secondary payer limited medical expenses in line with the overseas medical coverage defined by the Department of the State.
25. What is the procedure for SSDPs to enroll in the Department of State managed overseas medical program?
SSDPs must have a valid medical clearance for the post of assignment to be covered under the overseas medical program. Persons should contact the CGH Global Assignments Management team. Those already at post should follow the procedures for a newly acquired dependent – they will be given access to the overseas health unit for up to 90 days pending completion of their medical clearance. Again, we emphasize that in order to receive overseas medical program benefits, SSDPs must have overseas health insurance coverage as the Government acts only as a secondary payer in event of overseas hospitalization.
26. What will happen if a SSDP and dependent child is not given a medical clearance or an administrative waiver of clearance to be at post?
If a SSDP has a medical condition that cannot be adequately cared for at post, the partner or child may not be cleared to remain at post and receive benefits under the medical program.
27. What security requirements apply to SSDPs?
For foreign contact reporting see State Department regulations 12 FAM 274 Security Awareness and Contact Reporting Policy.”
28. Are there security clearance implications for employees with a SSDP?
As they relate to the employee’s continued eligibility for access to classified information, SSDPs must be vetted through security screening in the same way as we vet spouses or potential spouses.
Security screening of spouses or SSDP for employees being prepared for an overseas assignment will take place during the normal background clearance process but before a security clearance is granted for the new overseas assignment. GAM will notify OSEP of SSDP’s upon receiving the completed SSDP Affidavit.
Security screening of spouses or SSDP that are new acquired after reporting to an overseas duty station will be reported to OSEP by GAM upon receipt of a certified copy of the marriage certificate or certified copy of SSDP Affidavit
For foreign contact reporting see State Department regulations 12 FAM 274 Security Awareness and Contact Reporting Policy.”
29. What about non-U.S. citizen SSDPs?
Employees selected for assignment abroad must submit the appropriate security packet to CDC Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness far enough in advance (usually 90 days) to allow sufficient time to complete the appropriate investigation and render a decision as to the effect the relationship will have on the employee’s security clearance and proposed assignment. Employees posted abroad who have not already submitted the appropriate security packet pertaining to their SSDPs must do so immediately. The security packet should include a copy of the approved SSDP affidavit.
30. Will non-American SSDPs receive visa benefits for tours of duty in the US and overseas?
Visas to the United States will depend on the partner’s eligibility for a U.S. visa. At this time the Department of State has not provided an avenue for visa preference for SSDPs.
Visas for overseas assignments will depend on the host government.
31. Will there be an expedited citizenship process for naturalization of non American Citizen partners?
No, SSDP-ship is not a relationship that can form a basis for immigration under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
32. How will this change effect CDC payments for ICASS services?
CDC and the servicing embassy management officers should adjust the CDC ICASS workload count for applicable services, such as CLO and Health Services.
33. Will SSDPs who are also USG employees assigned to post be eligible both for benefits as a SSDP and as an employee?
SSDPs will be treated in the same manner as spouses with regard to eligibility for overseas benefits. For example, an individual who is both a SSDP and a Commissioned Corps officer assigned to post will continue to receive benefits as a Corps officer overseas assignee.
34. How do these benefits differ for Personal Services Contractors?
PSCs’ terms of employment are defined in their contracts.
35. What are the implications of dissolving a SSDP relationship?
Employees must immediately notify CDC Global Assignments Management Team in writing (cable, email, fax, letter) in the event that an SSDP relationship ends. Overseas benefits must be terminated when/if the SSDP and his/her his/her accompanying dependent children no longer reside with the employee, provided that such action are not contrary to a court order.
36. Will CDC pay for transport of a former SSDP and his/her accompanying dependent children away from post?
In situations where due to dissolution of the relationship former partners and/or their children wish to leave post in advance of the employee’s transfer, the employee may fund the returnee(s)’ travel and claim reimbursement using their travel orders at the end of their tour. Employees should provide to CDC a copy of any court order that may effect child custody arrangements.