COVERING YOUR DOMESTIC PARTNER

Q: What are the requirements for obtaining coverage for my domestic partner? 

A: You and your partner must satisfy the requirements of a domestic partnership established by NYSHIP. NYSHIP defines a domestic partnership as a lifetime relationship in which you and your partner are 18 years of age or older, live together, are financially interdependent, unmarried and not related in a way that would bar marriage.

A domestic partner of an active employee MUST enroll in Medicare Part B upon becoming Medicare eligible. If the domestic partner of an active employee became eligible for Medicare due to disability, they are NOT required to enroll in Medicare until they turn 65 or the employee retires, whichever happens first.

Q: How do I document that I have a domestic partner? 

A: The current proof requirements are outlined in the domestic partner enrollment application packet available through your department's Human Resources Representative. The forms can also be downloaded from the NYSHIP Web site. Once completed, the forms along with the required documentation should be given to your department's Human Resources Representative for processing. 

Q: What is the income tax implication associated with domestic partnership coverage? 

A: According to the Internal Revenue Code, if a domestic partner is not a "dependent" (as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code), the "fair market value" of the partner's coverage, less any contribution by the enrollee, is treated as income for federal tax purposes. Your department's Human Resources Representative should be able to provide you with an approximation of the fair market value for The Empire Plan. This value, referred to as "imputed income," will be added to your annual salary for income tax purposes and will apply even if you cover other dependents in addition to your partner. 

If your partner does qualify as a dependent under the Internal Revenue Code, there will be no imputed income. You must, however, submit a completed "Dependent Tax Affidavit" with your other enrollment documents.

Q: If my domestic partner's application is rejected, can I reapply? 

A: Yes, you can reapply. 

Q: Does domestic partner coverage extend to HMOs and dental/optical carriers? 

A: Yes, the same NYSHIP eligibility and documentation requirements apply if you are seeking domestic partner coverage in an HMO and in dental/optical plans. 

Q: If I predecease my domestic partner, is my domestic partner eligible for survivor coverage? 

A: Yes, your unmarried domestic partner, who has not acquired another domestic partner, can continue coverage as a survivor to the extent survivor coverage is offered under your collective bargaining agreement or under the Ordinance. 

Q: If the domestic partnership is terminated, how will this affect my partner's health insurance? 

A: If the partnership ends, you must notify your department's Human Resources Representative and end coverage for the domestic partner. You must complete a "Termination of Domestic Partnership of Participating Agency Enrollee in NYSHIP" form for proper notification. Your domestic partner may be eligible to continue coverage under COBRA. Upon notification of termination of the partnership, a COBRA application will be provided to you and mailed to your former domestic partner at his or her last known address. The domestic partner must apply for COBRA coverage within 60 days of termination of their domestic partner coverage. 

Q: If after ending coverage for my previous domestic partner, I enter into a new domestic partnership, can my new partner be covered under my health insurance? 

A: As of January 1, 2005, NYSHIP has imposed a one-year waiting period from the termination date of your previous domestic partner's coverage before you may again enroll a domestic partner.