Personnel Manual

Domestic Partner Policy & Guidelines

Effective June 1, 2001; Updated September 2006; Updated December 3, 2009 to comply with Washington State's Domestic Partner Law

Introduction

Pacific Lutheran University will extend benefits to eligible same sex and opposite sex domestic partners of with benefits faculty, staff, and administrators on the same basis that benefits are extended to legal spouses. The following information documents the required qualifications and other important information.  

Eligibility

Both Domestic Partners are:

  • Eighteen (18) years of age or older and
  • Not related by blood closer than would bar marriage in the State of Washington, and
  • Living together, and
  • Not married to anyone or a State Registered DP of another, and
  • Legally competent to register, and
  • Compliant, whether registered or not, with the State of Washington's domestic partner law.

Enrollment

Enrollment will be consistent with the enrollment periods for all employees and families; either -

  • During the annual open enrollment period (usually held during the month of April each year for an effective date of June 1st), or
  • Within 30 days of a change in family status - marriage, death, a change in employment status, etc. - as defined by the Internal Revenue Service and PLU's participating benefits providers.

Imputed Income Information

The Internal Revenue Service has ruled that if an employee receives health benefits for a domestic partner or such partner's legally dependent child (ren), the employee must pay FICA and Federal Income Taxes on the value of the benefit (i.e. the premium costs contributed by the employer).

Since the premium costs for all employees' families are currently paid by employees there are no imputed income expenses to consider for PLU's domestic partner premium costs currently.

Section 125 Plan for Pre-tax Premium Contributions and Section 129 Plan for Health Care Reimbursement

Out-of-pocket medical and dental premiums for domestic partners and their children will be deducted on an after-tax basis unless you attest that they qualify as your dependent according to the Internal Revenue Service.

In addition, in order to claim expenses for your domestic partner and/or his or her children under the Health Care Reimbursement Plan they must meet those same IRS guidelines.

Briefly, this means that the domestic partner and/or his or her children must either be a qualifying child or a qualifying relative:

  • Qualifying children are eligible if they are not claimed as a dependent by anyone else and are:
    • The employee's son, daughter, stepchild, eligible foster child, sibling or stepsibling, or a descendant of any such individual. Or a legally adopted child or a child lawfully placed with the taxpayer for adoption. 
    • Residing in the taxpayer's home for more than ½ of the taxable year.
    • Under the age of 19 at the end of the tax year (under the age of 24 if full time student). There's no limiting age for a child who is totally and permanently disabled.
    • The child must not have provided more than one-half of his or her own support for the taxable year OR
  • Qualifying relatives are eligible if:
    • The employee's child, stepchild, eligible foster child, sibling, or stepsibling, parent, grandparent (or other direct ancestor), first cousin, aunt or uncle, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law or sister-in-law.
    • The qualifying relative must not have gross income levels which are defined by the IRS and indexed annually.
    • The individual receives more than one-half of his or her support from the taxpayer.

To determine whether you provide more than half your dependent's total support you must compare the amount of support you provide with the amount of support your dependent supplies for himself or herself. Support includes food, shelter, clothing, medical and dental care, education and the like. If you believe you might provide more than half of your dependent's support, you should use the support worksheet in IRS publication #501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information before you complete your enrollment forms.

Because the determination of whether a person is a dependent for tax purposes depends on facts solely within your knowledge, PLU cannot make this determination for you.

Documentation

All employees requesting coverage for domestic partners and their children must complete a PLU Affidavit of Domestic Partnership Document that attests to their eligibility. This document allows PLU's benefits providers to verify with written proof that the family members for whom coverage is being requested satisfy these eligibility criteria. At least some of PLU's benefits providers may require a copy of the Affidavit be sent to them with the enrollment form for coverage.

Further documentation supporting the Affidavit will generally not be requested. However, PLU reserves the right to require proof of the domestic partnership in the same way that proof of Marriage Certificates for married employees may be requested. Documents that could substantiate domestic partner eligibility might include -

  • A Certificate of Domestic Partnership from the State of Washington
  • A lease, deed or mortgage showing both partners as parties to the transaction
  • Drivers licenses or passports for both partners showing the same address
  • Joint checking account or credit cards with the same account number
  • Joint wills or powers of attorney

PLU and/or its applicable benefit providers shall have the sole and exclusive authority to make a final and binding determination as to whether any applicant qualifies as a domestic partner under this policy.

COBRA Continuation Rights

Although federal COBRA regulations do not recognize domestic partners as covered beneficiaries, PLU and its applicable benefits providers (the medical and dental insurers) have currently chosen to offer COBRA elections to domestic partners and their children under the same conditions as all covered families. PLU and its applicable benefits providers reserve the right to change this decision at any time in the future.

Last Modified: September 19, 2012 at 09:46 AM