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Life Events - Benefit Plan Changes Toolkit

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Throughout your work life you will experience many life events, some happy and some very difficult, that will require a change in your health insurance and other insurance benefits. When these life events occur and based on the type of event, you will need to work with your Human Resources (HR) department or insurer to make any desired or required benefit plan changes. For some benefit plan changes, you will have a limited period in which to request the change (usually within 30 to 60 days of the day of the event). Also, some life event changes require you to provide documentation that the event occurred before you can make any changes to your benefits.


Make a point to know in advance what documentation is required and the deadline for requesting a change to your benefits due to a qualified life event.
“Change in Status” Life Events Include (but are not limited to):

  • Legal marital status changes, such as marriage, divorce, separation, or the death of a spouse
  • A change in the number of dependents such as birth, death or adoption
  • Changes in employment status for you, your spouse or domestic partner (if eligible for coverage), or your dependents
  • A dependent becoming eligible or ceasing to be eligible for coverage due to age, student status, or any similar circumstance
  • A change in the residence of the participant, or the participant’s spouse or dependent

Below is a list of common life events that may require a change in benefit elections. Click the event (e.g., "Marriage") to see a list of possible benefit changes. Your employer/insurer can provide you with the appropriate list of change in status/life events...
  1. New Hire - As a new employee, you are now eligible to elect coverage in your employer's health and welfare, retirement and other employee benefit programs. You may have a lot of benefit plan options to choose from--some of which your employer will pay the full cost of, share the cost with you, or be paid entirely by you. Your employer will inform you of the effective (start) date of your benefits coverage during your new hire orientation. If you plan to enroll in your new employer's health plans at time of hire, it is important that you submit your plan enrollment forms or enroll online within the designated period of time or you may not be able to enroll until the annual open enrollment period. Don't forget to submit your beneficiary (life, retirement, etc.) forms along with your enrollment information. If you plan to waive participation in your new employer's health plans (medical, dental, vision), you may need to sign a waiver statement and provide proof of other medical coverage (e.g., coverage under a spouse's plan). If you waive health insurance coverage at time of hire and experience a change in status, you may be able to enroll in your employer's plan prior to the annual open enrollment period. Use the checklist to see what benefit plan options may be available to you (your employer may provide different benefit programs from the ones listed here).
  2. Birth/Adoption/Award of Legal Guardianship - With the addition to your family, you have a set period of time to enroll your new dependent in your health plan. If you miss the deadline, you will have to wait until the annual open enrollment period to add him or her to the plan. It is your responsibility to notify your Human Resources department when you have a new dependent. There may be a change in the amount deducted from your pay due to your election change. Use the checklist to guide you in what benefit changes you may need to consider.
  3. Change in Dependent Child Status - If your dependent child has reached the health plans’ maximum coverage age, he or she must be removed from the plans on either the day they reached the maximum age or the end of the month in which they reached the maximum age. It is your responsibility to notify your Human Resources department when your covered child reaches the maximum coverage age. There may be a change in the amount deducted from your pay due to your election change. Use the checklist to guide you in what benefit changes you may need to consider.
  4. Marriage - When you marry, you have a set period of time to enroll your new spouse in your health plan. If you miss the deadline, you will have to wait until the annual open enrollment period to add him or her to the plan. It is your responsibility to notify your Human Resources department when you marry. There may be a change in the amount deducted from your pay due to your election change. Use the checklist to guide you in what benefit changes you may need to consider.
  5. Spouse Change in Employment - If your spouse’s employment status changes (e.g., starts or leaves a job), or their employer's open enrollment period differs from your open enrollment period, you may be allowed to enroll/dis-enroll him or her in your health plan. It is your responsibility to notify your Human Resources department when your spouse has a change in employment that impacts his or her benefits status as soon as the event occurs. There may be a change in the amount deducted from your pay due to your election change. Use the checklist to guide you in what benefit changes you may need to consider.
  6. Legal Separation/Divorce - If you legally separate or divorce, you must remove your former spouse from your health plan. It is your responsibility to notify your Human Resources department when you legally separate or divorce as soon as the event occurs. There may be a change in the amount deducted from your pay due to your election change. Use the checklist to guide you in what benefit changes you may need to consider.
  7. Death of Spouse/Dependent - If your spouse or dependent child passes away, you must remove them from your health plan. It is your responsibility to notify your Human Resources department when the event occurs. There may be a change in the amount deducted from your pay due to your election change. Use the checklist to guide you in what benefit changes you may need to consider.
  8. Termination - When your employment terminates, voluntarily or not, your participation in your employer's health plans will also terminate (on or after your termination date). You may be eligible to continue your health insurance coverage by electing COBRA and paying the full cost, plus an administrative fee. Use the checklist to guide you in what other benefit changes you may need to consider.
  9. Retirement - When you retire from your company, your participation in your employer's health plans will terminate (on or after your retirement date). You may be eligible to continue your health insurance coverage by electing COBRA and paying the full cost, plus an administrative fee, if you are not yet eligible for Medicare. Use the checklist to guide you in what other benefit changes you may need to consider.
  10. COBRA Participant - As an active COBRA participant, you have the right to make changes to your health plan elections during your former employer's annual open enrollment period. Use the checklist to guide you in what other benefit changes you may need to consider.