Domestic Partner Benefits

  • The agreements between APSCUF and PASSHE provide for benefits to Same-Sex Domestic Partners (hereinafter referred to as Domestic Partners) of PASSHE faculty and coaches. The Board of Governors also extended the same benefits to PASSHE managers. Domestic Partners and their children identified on a PASSHE Same-Sex Domestic Partnership Certification who are determined to be eligible may receive Employee Health Care Program.

    Note: The value of these Domestic Partner benefits may be taxable to the employee under federal law; please see below in the Taxation of Benefits section for more information.

    Eligibility Requirements for Same-Sex Domestic Partners

    To qualify for benefits listed above, an employee and partner must meet the following criteria and provide a completed PASSHE Same-Sex Domestic Partnership Certification. This notarized certification is to be maintained in the employee’s official personnel file.

    1. Each partner is the same gender.
    2. Neither partner is married to anyone else.
    3. Both partners are at least eighteen years old and mentally competent to enter into a contract in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
    4. Partners are the sole Domestic Partner of the other person.
    5. Partners have lived together in the same residence on a continuous basis for at least six months immediately prior to the date of the notarized statement, with the intent to reside together permanently.
    6. Partners are not related to each other by adoption or by blood, to a degree that would prohibit marriage in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
    7. Neither partner has been a member of another Domestic Partnership for the past six months (unless the prior Domestic Partnership ended as a result of the death or marriage of one of the Domestic Partners).
    8. Partners are jointly responsible for the common welfare and financial obligations of each other.

    Eligibility Requirements for Children of a Same-Sex Domestic Partner

    The unmarried biological or legally adopted child (including a child during the probation period), or a child for whom the Domestic Partner is the legal guardian, is eligible if the child meets the benefits program age requirements and:

    • is a legal dependent of the Domestic Partner; and
    • is a member of the household of the employee, or maintains the employee’s home as a primary residence while living away from home in order to be a full-time student; and
    • is a child for whom the employee has assumed financial responsibility.

    Same-Sex Domestic Partner Registration

    To initiate Domestic Partner benefits for a same-sex domestic partner and/or children of a same-sex domestic partner, an employee must certify the Same-Sex Domestic Partnership as follows:

    1. Complete a PASSHE Same-Sex Domestic Partnership Certification and have it notarized.
    2. Submit certification along with evidence of interdepency for at least six (6) months prior to the date the certification is executed to the Office of Human Resources, G-8 Sutton Hall. Acceptable documents include:
    • A Domestic Partnership Agreement as recognized by a governmental entity
    • Deed or lease evidencing common ownership of real property or a common leasehold interest in property
    • Evidence of a joint title to a motor vehicle
    • Driver's licenses listing a common address
    • Proof of joint bank accounts or credit accounts
    • Proof of designation as a beneficiary for life insurance or retirement benefits or beneficiary designation under a partner's will
    • Assignment of a durable power of attorney or health care power of attorney

    Note: Original documents must be submitted and must be dated at least six (6) months prior to the date the certification is executed.

    Benefit Plan Enrollment

    Employee Health Care Program and Management Benefits Program enrollment must occur within sixty (60) calendar days of the notarization date on the PASSHE Same-Sex Domestic Partnership Certification, or within sixty (60) days of a qualifying life event, if applicable; otherwise, enrollment cannot occur until the next open enrollment period. Examples of a qualifying life event could be adoption or legal guardianship of a child or a change in employment status, such as termination or the start of employment. To enroll, the employee must submit a PASSHE Enrollment/Change form along with the supporting documentation as outlined above, unless already on file.

    Taxation of Benefits for Same-Sex Domestic Partners

    Under federal tax laws, only certain dependents of an employee may receive employer-provided health coverage on a tax-free basis. For example, an employee’s opposite-sex spouse may receive health coverage tax-free. Different tax rules apply to same-sex Domestic Partners. Under those rules, health coverage provided to an employee’s Domestic Partner (and to the Domestic Partner’s children) will typically result in wage income being imputed to the employee.

    Both the university and employee costs of providing Domestic Partner benefits are treated as taxable income to the employee if the Domestic Partner and/or Partner’s children is/are not qualified as dependents under federal tax regulations. For this reason, the fair market value of providing Domestic Partner benefits will be added to the employee’s biweekly pay as additional taxable income for federal tax as well as for Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes. Also, the employee’s health program contribution attributable to Domestic Partner benefits will be an after-tax deduction.

    This additional taxable income can be excluded if the employee is eligible to claim the Domestic Partner and/or Partner’s children as tax qualified dependents under the applicable requirements of Internal Revenue Code Section 152 (which defines the term “dependent” for various tax purposes). An employee who files a certification stating that the Domestic Partner and/or Partner’s children is/are eligible to receive health coverage tax-free under the applicable IRS requirements will not be taxed on the value of the health coverage, provided the tax-qualified status continues for the entire calendar year. Employees must report any changes in the tax-qualified status of the Domestic Partner and/or Partner’s children to the university Human Resources office on a timely basis. To continue the tax-qualified status, the employee must file a new certification by February 15 of every calendar year. If such legal tax dependency is not certified by the required deadline, the fair market value of Domestic Partner benefits will be added to the employee’s taxable income for that calendar year.

    As indicated above, the impact of Domestic Partner benefits on an employee’s taxable income will be determined by the tax qualified status of the Domestic Partner and the Domestic Partner’s children. Since employees must certify as to the nature of this tax qualified status, it is recommended that employees consult with a qualified tax professional for guidance.

    Termination of a Same-Sex Domestic Partnership

    The employee must notify the university Human Resources office in writing within thirty (30) days of the dissolution of a certified Same-Sex Domestic Partnership by completing a Termination of Same-Sex Domestic Partnership form. Benefit plan eligibility for the Domestic Partner and children of the Partner ends on the last day of the month in which the partnership ended. Failure to notify the university may result in liability for benefits provided to ineligible Domestic Partner and/or dependents.

    Additional Information

    For additional information on domestic partner benefits, see the Frequently Asked Questions.