Today, the DOL released Technical Release 2013-04, providing that the Secretary of Labor will interpret the terms “spouse” and “marriage”, for purposes of ERISA and related regulations and opinions, to include individuals who are lawfully married under any state law (regardless of state of domicile). The release states this approach is the most consistent with the Windsor decision and notes that a state of celebration approach provides a uniform rule that can be applied with certainty by employers, plan administrators, participants, and beneficiaries. In addition, the DOL intends to issue future guidance addressing specific provisions of ERISA.
This approach is the same approach used by the IRS for purposes of federal tax law. Please see our previous post for further details regarding the IRS approach.