All employers who offer benefits plans define who is eligible. Typically, full employee benefits are reserved for full-time regular employees working 30 or more hours per week. Sometimes benefits are offered to part-time employees, but this is less common.
Most employers also establish a waiting period for benefits where benefits start after a designated waiting period. Waiting periods can be anything from 0 to 90 days after the date of hire. Sometimes benefits will start on the first of the month following the date of hire, or the first of the month following one month of employment. Nearly all benefits require that you be actively working on the date coverage begins.
As you become eligible for benefits, so do your eligible dependents. In general, that means your spouse and children up to age 26. Children typically include biological, adopted, stepchildren, and foster children.
Some employers also allow the enrollment of a domestic partner and the child(ren) of a domestic partner. When this is the case, the employer will often require a non-registered domestic partner to meet specific criteria outlined in an “Affidavit of Domestic Partnership.” This affidavit must be completed prior to your enrollment being approved.
You must complete your initial enrollment within 30 days of your eligibility date. If you do not complete your enrollment within this window, you will need to wait until the annual Open Enrollment in order to elect coverage under any plans that require contributions. This typically includes medical, dental, and vision coverages. Life and disability insurance plans are usually provided at no cost to the employee, and enrollment is often automatic in these plans.
When you terminate your employment, your employee benefits coverage will terminate as well. Sometimes coverage will terminate on your actual date of termination. Other times coverage for medical, dental, and vision benefits will terminate on the last day of the month following employment termination. Refer to benefits plan summary or certificates of coverage to confirm details of eligibility.