Domestic Partner Eligibility
There is no requirement that self-funded ERISA plans extend plan coverage to domestic partners. Eligibility and termination requirements of the plan must be spelled out in the plan document if the plan wishes to offer this type of coverage. In fact, any requirements that must be satisfied in order to be eligible for coverage must be spelled out, such as completion of an affidavit. A sample affidavit is provided under the Compliance Materials section. Plans have flexibility when designing their affidavit. It is important to note that plans wishing to limit domestic partner eligibility to same-sex partners may encounter the same discrimination concerns that we discussed above for spousal coverage being limited to opposite sex spouses.
In the case of a Non-ERISA plan, Compliance will need to look to the specific state law to see whether that plan has the same flexibility as an ERISA plan to define eligibility.
Please note that domestic partner coverage and coverage of same-sex spouses are not one in the same.
It is also important to note that employers may not exclude employer-provided health coverage from an employee's gross income for domestic partner coverage unless the domestic partner is the employee's tax dependent.
The content described on this page is current as of 2018 and is not intended to be legal or tax advice and should not be construed as such. The intent is to provide information only. Meritain encourages plans to consult with their own legal counsel and tax experts for legal and tax advice.