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State Employees' Same-Sex Spouses and Their Children Are Now Eligible for Benefits

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT
Diane Jones and Bryna Wortham stand with Rev. Richard Bates at their wedding ceremony at the Travis County Courthouse on June 26, 2015

Today is the first day state employees can apply for benefits on behalf of their same-sex spouses and their children.

Every year, during the summer's open enrollment period, Cathy Terrell's typically pretty busy. Terrell and her team manage the benefits of close to 333,000 state employees and retirees with the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS). The ERS oversees the benefits of every state agency excluding the UT and Texas A&M systems.

After last week's Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex couples to marry in every state, Terrell realized this open enrollment season will be busier than ever.

The only thing is, she doesn't know by how much.

"There are varying estimates as to how many [more beneficiaries] would be added at this point. [ERS] won't know until we get some enrollment figures," she says. 

Today, the University of Texas andTexas A&Msystems roll out benefits to same-sex spouses and their children, along with the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and the ERS. If applicants were married prior to today, they have 31 days to enroll their spouses or dependents. Applications are available online. 

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
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