When Your Situation Changes

Qualifying Status Events

If your personal situation changes, your eligibility for benefits, or those of your dependents, may be impacted. These changes are known as “qualifying status events.” Depending on the event, you may change certain benefits. 

Examples of Qualifying Status Events 

You can modify your associated benefits within designated timeframes (see below) when you any of the following qualifying status events occur:
  • You get married.
  • You get divorced.
  • You have a birth or adoption of a child.
  • You experience a death of a spouse or a child.
  • Your dependent child no longer meets the definition of eligible dependent.
  • Your spouse gains employment with benefits.
  • Your spouse’s employment terminates.
  • You experience any significant change in your family’s health care plan coverage, such as a change in your spouse’s health care plan or another plan under which you become covered.
  • You or your spouse transition from full–time to part–time employment.
  • You or your spouse transition from part–time to full–time employment.
  • You or your spouse go on an unpaid leave of absence from work.
  • You or your spouse go on and/or return to work from an unpaid leave of absence.
All qualifying status events require verification of the change, such as a birth or death certificate. After the 31–day or 90–day deadline, you have to wait until the next annual open enrollment period to make any additional changes. 


When you have a qualifying status event and want to make associated benefits changes, you must notify Human Resources and provide verification of the change: 
  • within 31 days of the qualifying status event in order to make associated benefits changes or
  • within 90 days when you have a birth or adoption of a child. 
After the 31–day or 90–day deadline, you have to wait until the next annual open enrollment period to make any changes. 

When Your Change Takes Effect 

Election changes for all qualifying status changes, except for those as a result of the birth or adoption of child, are effective on the first of the month coincident with or next following the date of the qualifying status event. In the case of birth or adoption, the effective date is retroactive to the actual date of the qualifying event.
Once your documentation is reviewed and approved, you will be notified by email that you may log on to eBenefits, your secure, confidential, online management tool for your medical, dental and vision plans; expense accounts; retirement deductions; supplemental insurance coverage; and beneficiaries for term life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance. 

How to Change Your Benefits 

If you experience a qualifying status event and wish to modify any of your benefits plans, you must: 
  • contact the Benefits Team at 258-3302 or benefits@princeton.edu
  • submit a copy of the proof of change to Human Resources within the specific timeframes described above.
You can use eBenefits to change your by following these steps: 
  • log into the HR Self Service system using your netID and personal password from any computer with Internet access
  • follow the path: HR Self Service > eBenefits > Enrollment > Benefits Enrollment
  • click on eBenefits Help if you need additional information 

Updating Your Beneficiary 

When you have a qualifying status event change, it is also a good time to review your beneficiary whom you have designated to receive benefits in the event of your death.
Changes in your family situation, as a result of a qualifying status event, do not automatically alter or revoke your previous beneficiary designations. Beneficiary designations made prior to the qualifying status event remain intact until you complete a new beneficiary form.
You may wish to consider updating your life insurance and/or your TIAA–CREF retirement plan beneficiaries. 

IRS Consistency Rule 

An election must be “on account of” and “correspond with” a change in a qualifying status event that affects eligibility for coverage. Many events do not necessarily affect eligibility for the coverage per se.
For example, the request to decrease a Health Benefit Expense Account election due to losing a dependent would not be permissible if the employee still remains eligible for the Health Benefit Expense Account election. In the event of a marital or employment status change, an employee may drop the election only if he or she actually enrolls in the spouse or dependent’s plan. 

Retroactive Increase Rule 

In addition, increasing a Health Benefit Expense Account election amount retroactively that creates a situation in which you cross calendar years is not permitted.
For example, if you are permitted to increase your Health Benefit Expense Account due to the birth of your baby who is born on November 20, you cannot elect this increase after December 31. Once the tax year has ended, retroactive elections cannot be made.
You can count on support from knowledgeable and responsive HR staff when you have a benefits question or problem. Just call or e mail us. We’re here to help!
While the University intends to continue each of the benefit plans, the University reserves the right to terminate or amend any plan, at any time, and for any reason.