Employee plus-one enrollees must register for benefits in person

Nov 15th, 2012 | By | Category: 2012, Employee News, Issue, Nov. 15

The first flight of employees who enroll under the University of Nebraska’s “employee plus-one” benefits coverage must do so through a campus benefits office.

While administrators would like to offer the enrollment electronically, Keith Dietze, director of university-wide benefits, said the need for in-person registration is due to complicated federal tax regulations.

“The process is simply too complex for electronic enrollment at this time,” said Dietze. “However, on the University of Nebraska’s benefits homepage, there will be a module that includes all the information employees need to know about plus-one benefits.”

The NU Board of Regents approved benefits for domestic partners on a 5-3 vote on June 8. The program extends benefits eligibility to an “adult designee” who shares an employee’s household. The employee and adult designee must be able to prove they are financially interdependent. Family coverage will include the adult designee and dependent children.

All NU benefits are included in the coverage.

Along with general benefits forms, employees opting for plus-one benefits must also provide documentation that the employee and adult designee are financially interdependent.

“That affidavit gets the adult designee into the door,” said Dietze. “Then, if all documentation has been provided and Benefits approves it, then you have to fill out certification for tax qualified dependents for employee plus-one benefits.”

The form decides if benefits payments are pre-tax or must be taxed as income.

“This is per IRS regulations,” said Dietze. “And it’s not as easy as it sounds in terms of the process. It is fairly complicated.”

Dietze stressed that benefits administrators cannot provide tax advice to employees. Instead, employees who have questions on federal tax laws should consult with a tax adviser.

Overall, Dietze said university benefits administrators have been working on the employee plus-one benefits guidelines since Regents approval in June. He said the prep work has been extensive.

“We’ve attempted to make benefits enrollment equal across the board,” said Dietze. “However, there are many IRS restrictions which cannot allow us to make this equal 100 percent.

“And the key thing employees need to realize is that we are required to handle it in this manner.”

University benefits administrators have received a few inquiries about the plus-one benefit since approved by the Regents. However, he said no one is sure how many employees will opt for the new benefit.

— Troy Fedderson, University Communications

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