Domestic Partner Benefits: Facts and Background
(for a more recent version see February 2009 Facts from EBRI)
g What is a “domestic partnership” and what proof of the relationship is required?
• Domestic partner benefits are benefits that an employer chooses to offer to an employee's unmarried
partner, whether of the same or opposite sex.
• An employer wishing to implement a domestic partner program needs to create a definition of what an
eligible domestic partner is. The most common definitions contain four or five core elements: 1) the
partners must have attained a minimum age, usually 18; 2) Neither person is related by blood closer than
permitted by state law for marriage; 3) The partners must share a committed relationship; 4) The
relationship must be exclusive; 5) The partners must be financially interdependent.
• An employer also must decide whether the domestic partner program is to cover same-sex couples only or
include opposite-sex couples.
• Documentation of proof of a domestic partner relationship can take many forms. It is up to the employer to
determine what is appropriate. Some employers are satisfied with the partners signing a written statement
of their relationship. Some employers may require proof of some financial relationship, such as a joint
lease or mortgage. Whatever documentation is required must be germane to the issue of validating a
domestic partnership, or it could lead to claims of invasion of privacy.
g What is included in domestic partner benefits and how many employers offer this benefit?
• Most employers that offer domestic partner benefits to their workers offer a range of only low-cost
benefits, such as family/bereavement/sick leave, relocation benefits, access to employer facilities, and
attendance at employer functions. However, most public attention involving domestic partner benefits
involves employers that offer health insurance coverage to domestic partners.
• According to a 2002 survey by Hewitt Associates, 19 perce