In May 2017, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Teresa Renaker of Renaker Hasselman LLP appealed a decision by the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to collect an overpayment of benefits that resulted from decades of discrimination.
Joan Krall started working for the National Park Service in 1960 when she was 17 years old. After 38 years of service, she retired in 1998. At the time of her retirement, Ms. Krall had lived together with her loving partner, Joan Biordi, for 21 years. When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, Ms. Krall finally married Ms. Biordi. When Ms. Krall notified OPM of the marriage, however, OPM informed the couple that if they elected a survivor pension benefit, the couple would have to first repay hundreds of thousands of dollars of retirement benefits Ms. Krall received as a single life annuity. OPM has the power to waive overpayments where the federal employee was without fault and recovery “would be against equity and good conscience.”
Throughout their lives together, Ms. Krall and Ms. Biordi have suffered countless economic and other injuries as a result of their inability to marry, including the inability to receive any spousal benefits during Ms. Krall’s long career in federal service, including healthcare coverage, and the inability to obtain tax benefits available to married couples. Requiring the couple to repay benefits would add yet another injury. NCLR continues to represent Ms. Krall to get the legal relief she needs.