Life Events

If employees have a change in family status, they may be able to make a related change to their benefits. See below for information on when they can change their benefits.

An employee can change their benefit plans during Open Enrollment, or during the plan year in which their family status changes.

During open enrollment

Open enrollment is held once each year in the fall. During this time, an employee can change their benefits plans, add and drop dependents, and add or drop coverage. Any changes an employee makes during open enrollment takes effect on January 1 of the new plan year. Enrollment for life insurance is subject to the approval of the employee's Medical History Statement by the carrier. An employee can also enroll in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for health care and dependent care. An employee must re-enroll every year, even if the employee has had an account the previous year. Employee can use online or paper forms for open enrollment.

During the plan year

An employee can add or remove medical, dental, vision, and AD&D coverage for dependents during the plan year if any of these changes occur:

  • birth, adoption or placement for adoption of a child
  • start of a legal guardianship
  • loss of a child's, spouse's or domestic partner's eligibility under another health plan
  • marriage or formation of a domestic partnership
  • divorce or termination of a domestic partnership

Any employee enrollment changes during the plan year must reflect the employee change in family status, for example:

  • employee adds coverage for a newly adopted child, but not for other children
  • employee's child loses coverage under employee spouse's coverage, so employee would add this child to employee plan
  • employee gets married or forms a domestic partnership, so employee enrolls their new spouse or domestic partner and their eligible children.
  • employee divorces, so employee stops covering for their former spouse.

Adding dependents? Employee will be asked to verify their dependents' eligibility for City benefits.

When an employee adds a dependent to one of the City's health plans, employees will have to provide documents that verify their eligibility for coverage. Within 2-3 weeks of an employee adding a dependent, the employee will receive a letter from Alight Solutions, the company that handles the verification process.

When an employee adds a dependent to one of the City's health plans, the employee will have to provide documents that verify their eligibility for coverage. Within 2-3 weeks of an employee adding a dependent, the employee will receive a letter with instructions from Alight Solutions.The City wants every eligible dependent to stay on City benefits. Employees can call Alight Solutions at 1-800-725-5810 if they:

  • have any questions
  • didn't receive a letter after adding a spouse, domestic partner, or children
  • need help logging into the website
  • have difficulty finding employee documents
  • want to get help in a language other than English (help available in 177 languages)

How does an employee send documents to Alight Solutions?

Fax: 1-877-965-9555. An employee should use their unique Fax/Mail cover sheet from their initial letter showing the scan/bar code. (The letter is also available on the employee's online account at www.yourdependentverification.com/plan-smart-infounder Contacts.) Call Alight Solutions at 1-800-725-5810 if assistance is needed.  Mail: Alight Solutions Dependent Verification Center, P.O. Box 1414, Lincolnshire, IL 60069-1414. Employee should use their unique Fax/Mail cover sheet from their initial letter showing the scan/bar code. (The letter is also available online at www.yourdependentverification.com/plan-smart-info under Contacts.) Call Alight Solutions at 1-800-725-5810 for assistance. Online Uploadwww.yourdependentverification.com/plan-smart-info. Employee should use their Login Name and Password from their letter. Call Alight Solutions at 1-800-725-5810 for assistance.

Resources

If an employee needs additional help contacting Alight Solutions, the employee should contact their department's HR representative, or the City Benefits Unit at

206-615-1340 or Benefits.unit@seattle.go

Employees can add their child:

  • within 60 days of birth or adoption/placement for adoption
  • within 30 days of marriage, or establishment of a domestic partnership or legal guardianship

Step 1 - enroll in medical/dental/vision coverage

After the birth, placement for adoption, or adoption of employees' child, employees have 60 days to add them to their medical, dental, and vision plans. If a child joins employees' family through marriage, formation of a domestic partnership, or legal guardianship, employees have 30 days to add them to their plans.

Employees must complete a Benefits Change Form and submit it to their department's Benefits Representative. Employees will be asked to verify their dependents' eligibility for their City benefits. Coverage begins retroactive to the date of the birth or adoption event. Coverage begins the first of the month following employees' department's benefits representative's receipt of the enrollment form if a child joins employees' family through marriage, formation of a domestic partnership, or legal guardianship. If employees miss the enrollment deadlines, employees can enroll their new child(ren) at the next open enrollment period (usually held in the fall).

Step 2 - Employees review their life insurance needs

Within 60 days of employees' child's birth or adoption event, or within 30 days of employees' marriage, formation of domestic partnership, or start of legal guardianship, employees can do the following:

  • add supplemental life insurance coverage for their child, if employees currently enrolled in supplemental life insurance
  • add family accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) coverage, if employees currently have individual coverage

At the next open enrollment after employees' child joins the family, employees can do the following:

  • purchase basic group term life insurance
  • purchase supplemental group term life insurance
  • purchase AD&D insurance

Step 3 - Enroll in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) program

Within 30 days of employees' child joining their family, employees can do the following:

  • sign up for a Health Care and/or Day Care FSA
  • increase the amount of the employees' current FSA account, to a maximum of $2,550 for Health Care and maximum $5,000 for Day Care
  • employees may not stop or decrease contributions to a current FSA unless they have a decrease in working hours

Step 4 - Take time off

Employees may want to use one or more of the City's leave programs to help them when they add a dependent:

  • vacation
  • family and medical leave
  • paid parental leave
  • personal leave
  • sick leave
  • pregnancy leave

Step 5 - Employees review their long-term disability insurance needs

At the next open enrollment, an employees can enroll in Supplemental Long Term Disability (LTD) coverage. Any LTD benefits will be subject to a 24-month pre-existing condition limitation.

Step 6 - Employees update their beneficiary information

Employees should review who they have named as their beneficiary, for employee sick leave, AD&D insurance, deferred compensation, and retirement plan - employees can check this in their non-City plans too, such as IRAs and personal life insurance plans. Employees should then send their updated personal information to their department's Benefits Representative.

Step 7 - Employees change personal and tax withholding information

Employees may need to change the amount of taxes withheld from their paycheck by submitting a new W-4 statement to their department's Benefits Representative or Payroll office for processing. Employees can also change their W-4 statement online using Employee Self-Service.

When an employees' child turns 26 years old, they no longer qualify as the employees dependent for medical, dental, or vision coverage. Employees should notify their department's Benefits representative as soon as possible. Coverage may continue for a handicapped/incapacitated child, if the child becomes disabled before turning 26 and proof of fully handicapped/incapacitated status has been documented by a physician.

Step 1 - Change medical/dental/vision coverage

Employees' children can continue their health care coverage through COBRA. To elect COBRA, employees must notify their Department's Human Resources Representative and their child must complete a COBRA application form. Also, complete a Benefits Change Form to remove them from coverage. Employees' child's coverage will stop at the end of the month in which their child becomes 26 years old.

Step 2 - Make other changes to employee benefits coverage

Employees may cancel any optional coverage such as life insurance, supplemental life insurance, Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) or Supplemental Long-Term Disability. Dependents are eligible for supplemental GTL and AD&D up to age 26 (through age 25).

Step 3 - Change personal and tax withholding information

Employees should check the amount of taxes withheld from their paycheck. To change it, submit a new W-4 online using Employee Self-Service, or to employees' department's Human Resources Representative or Payroll office.

If employees get married or form a domestic partnership, employees have 30 days after the marriage date or the date employees formed employee domestic partnership to enroll employees new spouse or domestic partner in City-sponsored medical, dental and vision coverage.

Step 1 - Add employees spouse or partner to employees' health coverage

To enroll employees' new spouse or domestic partner, employees must complete these forms and submit them to employees' department's Benefits Representative.

Employees have 30 days to submit the forms. After that, employees will have to wait until the next open enrollment period. Coverage begins on the first of the month following employees' department's Benefits Representative's receipt of the enrollment form. If employees domestic partner (and their children) are not tax dependents under IRS tax code, learn what taxes employees will have to pay on their medical, dental and vision coverage.

Step 2 - Review employees' life insurance needs

Within 30 days of the marriage/domestic partnership, employees may do the following:

  • add Supplemental Group Term Life coverage for employees' spouse/partner, if employees are already enrolled in it
  • change employees' AD&D coverage to family coverage, if employees already have individual coverage

Employees will have to wait until open enrollment to do the following:

  • buy Basic Group Term Life (GTL) Insurance, if employees are not already enrolled
  • buy Supplemental Group Term Life Insurance for employees, if employees do not already have it
  • increase Supplemental Group Term Life coverage if employees do not already have it

Step 3 - Review employees' LTD (disability) insurance needs

If employees do not already have Supplemental Long Term Disability (LTD) coverage, employees can add it during the next open enrollment. Because employees will be enrolling after they are first eligible, any LTD benefits will be subject to a 24-month pre-existing condition limitation. Disability insurance is not available for family members.

Step 4 - Update employees' beneficiary information

Check employees' beneficiary information for employees' Life, AD&D and Deferred Compensation plans. Also check employees' beneficiaries for employees' sick leave balance, and employees' City and non-City retirement and life insurance plans. Send updates to employees' department's Human Resources Representative.

Step 5 - Change personal and tax withholding information

Change the amount of taxes withheld from employees' paycheck by submitting a new W-4 to employees' department's Human Resources Representative or Payroll office, or online using Employee Self-Service.

If an employee divorces, legally separates, or dissolves their domestic partnership, they should notify their department's Benefits Representative as soon as possible. Employees have 30 days from the change to remove their dependent from their medical, dental, and vision coverage.

Step 1 - Change medical/dental/vision coverage

In order for employees to remove their former spouses or domestic partners, or their legally separated spouses, from the employees' health coverage, employees should complete these two documents and provide them to their department's Benefits Representative:

Then, they can continue their City health care coverage by paying through COBRA. They'll need to:

  • submit an application within 60 days of the qualifying event
  • make their first premium payment within 45 days of enrolling in COBRA

Domestic partnerships: Employees can remove their domestic partner from City benefits on the date they file their forms. Their coverage will end the last day of that month. Legal separations: Benefits end whether or not the employee divorces. The spouse's coverage ends on the last day of the month in which the employee filed for separation; however, note that living separately does not qualify as legal separation - it is a specific legal process with its own court filing requirements, different from divorce. Divorces: If an employee files for divorce without a legal separation, the employee will continue paying premiums for their spouse until the divorce finalizes. Spouse coverage will end the last day of the month in which the divorce was final. Employees will have 30 days after a legal separation or divorce to notify their department's HR representative to discontinue premium payments. The City reserves the right to recoup benefit payments made to ineligible spouses who are not removed within the timeframe.

Step 2 - Change other benefits

Employees can cancel any optional coverage such as life insurance, supplemental life insurance, AD&D or Supplemental Long-Term disability at any time. Coverage will stop at the end of the month of the employees' divorce, legal separation or employees' domestic partnership dissolves. Employees should provide updated personal information to their department's Human Resources Representative.

Step 3 - Update employee beneficiary information

Check the beneficiary election for AD&D insurance, deferred compensation and sick leave, and for employees' City and non-city retirement and life insurance plans. Employees should send updated beneficiary information to their department's Human Resources Representative, or update beneficiary information online through Employee Self Service.

Step 4 - Change tax withholding information

Employees can change the amount of taxes withheld from their paycheck by submitting a new W-4 to their department's Benefits Representative or Payroll office, or online using Employee Self-Service.

'When there is a death in an employee's family, the employee's department's Benefits representative can help determine benefits available to the employee or their beneficiaries. Employee or their beneficiaries may be eligible for benefits under Basic and/or Supplemental Group Term Life insurance, AD&D insurance, Deferred Compensation Plan, or the City of Seattle Retirement Plan.

Step 1 - Employee contacts department's Benefits Representative

When there is a death in an employee's family, the employee's Benefits representative will help the employee determine the benefits available to them. Benefits may be payable to the employee or their beneficiaries under Basic and/or Supplemental Group Term Life insurance, AD&D insurance, Deferred Compensation Plan, or the City of Seattle's Retirement Plan. Employee may be eligible to use one or more of these leave programs when there is a death in their family:

  • funeral leave
  • sick leave
  • personal leave
  • vacation
  • emergency leave (available to some union members)

Step 2 - Employee changes their personal and tax withholding information

An employee may need to update their personal information with their department's Human Resources Representative, including employee's beneficiary designations, and who is covered under their medical plan. Employee also may need to change the amount of taxes withheld from their paycheck by submitting a new W-4. Employee may change this online using Employee Self-Service, or through their department's Human Resources Representative or payroll office.

Step 3 - Employee contacts the EAP

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can provide employee with confidential, professional help during this difficult time. Employee can reach Resources for Living at 1-888-272-7252 or TTY 1-888-879-8274.

Step 4 - Employee completes the Healthcare Benefits Change Form

If there is a death in an employee's immediate family, they may need to complete the healthcare benefits change form to reflect the change to their medical, dental, and vision dependents.

Employees should see detailed information below if they are leaving City of Seattle employment and not retiring. Also, use the Employee Exit Guide for next steps, including continuing medical, dental and vision coverage through COBRA, and choosing a medical plan health insurance exchange.

Checklist

  • Employee tells their immediate supervisor.
  • Review the Employee Exit guide.
  • Employee gives their department a mailing address for their COBRA notification.
  • Get forms to convert to individual optional plan coverages from employee's department's HR representative/Payroll office.
  • If employee participates in the Deferred Compensation Program, contact Nationwide for retirement advice at (855) 550-1757. Employee does not have to take their funds out of the plan when they leave their job.
  • Employee talks with their Benefits or Human Resources representative about converting their accrued vacation leave into their deferred compensation account.
  • Employee turns in their transit pass to their department HR representative.

When do employee benefits end?

Employee benefits, including dependent's coverage, will end on the last day of the calendar month in which one of these happens:

  • Employee is no longer eligible
  • Employee resign, retire or are terminated
  • Employee stops making any required payment
  • Employee's plan terminates
  • Employee dependent's coverage will end on the last day of the calendar month in which the employee dies. A representative of the employee's estate should contact employee's Department's Human Resources office for more information.

How does an employee continue medical, dental and vision insurance?

An employee can get benefits through Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) or the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  COBRA: An employee can buy just employer City medical insurance, or dental and vision insurance, or all three. An employee can use COBRA for up to 18 months after employee employment ends. If employee qualify for Social Security disability benefits, employee can use COBRA for an additional 11 months. City of Seattle will send employee a letter at employee home address about COBRA. The employee will then have 60 days to respond, so please ensure employee's address is correct on Employee Self-Service. Employee's dependents can use COBRA for up to 36 months if any of these happen:

  • Employee dies
  • Employee divorces, legally separates, or dissolves a domestic partnership
  • Employee's child loses dependent child status by turning 26 years of age

Affordable Care Act (Health Care Reform): Find a new individual medical plan through the health insurance exchange at www.wahealthplanfinder.org within 30 days of losing coverage through a City of Seattle medical plan. An employee may purchase coverage during the plan year due to a qualifying event or during annual enrollment. Stopping payment on another plan (such as COBRA) is not a qualifying event.

Group Term Life Insurance + Supplemental GTL

Employee Basic Group Term Life coverage and any supplemental coverage terminate on the last day of the calendar month in which the employee paid premiums. An employee can convert employee's group term life insurance to an individual policy by contacting Securian Financial.

Accidental Death & Dismemberment

Employee coverage ends the last day of the month for which employee has paid premiums.  

Long-Term Disability

Employee Long-Term Disability coverage ends the last day of the month in which employee's employment ends. An employee can buy LTD conversion insurance if employee was insured under the City's plan for at least one year. Employee must apply in writing to The Hartford and pay the first premium within 30 days of the date employee loses City coverage.

Employees should see detailed information below if they are leaving City of Seattle employment and not retiring. Also, use the Employee Exit Guide for next steps, including continuing medical, dental and vision coverage through COBRA, and choosing a medical plan health insurance exchange.

Checklist

  • Employee tells their immediate supervisor.
  • Review the Employee Exit guide.
  • Employee gives their department a mailing address for their COBRA notification.
  • Get forms to convert to individual optional plan coverages from employee's department's HR representative/Payroll office.
  • If employee participates in the Deferred Compensation Program, contact Nationwide for retirement advice at (855) 550-1757. Employee does not have to take their funds out of the plan when they leave their job.
  • Employee talks with their Benefits or Human Resources representative about converting their accrued vacation leave into their deferred compensation account.
  • Employee turns in their transit pass to their department HR representative.

When do employee benefits end?

Employee benefits, including dependent's coverage, will end on the last day of the calendar month in which one of these happens:

  • Employee is no longer eligible
  • Employee resign, retire or are terminated
  • Employee stops making any required payment
  • Employee's plan terminates
  • Employee dependent's coverage will end on the last day of the calendar month in which the employee dies. A representative of the employee's estate should contact employee's Department's Human Resources office for more information.

How does an employee continue medical, dental and vision insurance?

An employee can get benefits through Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) or the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  COBRA: An employee can buy just employer City medical insurance, or dental and vision insurance, or all three. An employee can use COBRA for up to 18 months after employee's employment ends.  If employee qualify for Social Security disability benefits, employee can use COBRA for an additional 11 months. City of Seattle will send employee a letter at the employee's home address about COBRA. The employee will then have 60 days to respond, so please ensure employee address is correct on Employee Self-Service. Employee's dependents can use COBRA for up to 36 months if any of these happen:

  • Employee dies
  • Employee divorces, legally separates, or dissolves a domestic partnership
  • Employee's child loses dependent child status by turning 26 years old

City-Sponsored Retiree Plans: An employee may also choose to elect a retiree medical plan sponsored by the City of Seattle. Please see the Retirees health plans page for details. 

Affordable Care Act (Health Care Reform): Find a new individual medical plan through the health insurance exchange at www.wahealthplanfinder.org within 30 days of losing coverage through a City of Seattle medical plan. An employee may purchase coverage during the plan year due to a qualifying event or during annual enrollment. Stopping payment on another plan (such as COBRA) is not a qualifying event.

Group Term Life Insurance + Supplemental GTL

Employee Basic Group Term Life coverage and any supplemental coverage terminate on the last day of the calendar month in which the employee paid premiums. An employee can convert employee's group term life insurance to an individual policy by contacting Securian Financial.

Accidental Death & Dismemberment

Employee coverage ends the last day of the month for which employee has paid premiums. 

Long-Term Disability

Employee Long-Term Disability coverage ends the last day of the month in which employee's employment ends. An employee can buy LTD conversion insurance if employee were insured under the City's plan for at least one year. Employee may apply by contacting The Hartford and pay the first premium within 30 days of the date employee loses City coverage.