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Family Status Changes

A qualifying life event is defined as a change in your status that makes you eligible to enroll in or waive health insurance outside of the annual open enrollment period. This special enrollment period allows you to make certain changes within 30 days of the life event. The following may be considered qualifying life events:

  • marriage
  • birth or adoption of a child(ren)
  • death of a covered dependent
  • divorce or legal separation
  • loss or gain of health insurance coverage by your spouse’s employer-sponsored coverage
  • termination of employment

How to Make a Family Status Change

Please review these instructions before you start the Family Status Change process. There are several steps to the process and it's important for you to follow all of them. Keep in mind that the date you select as the event date is also the effective date of the change in coverage. For instance, if you or your eligible dependent’s last day of coverage elsewhere is January 31st, then you would choose February 1st as the event date since this is the date you or your eligible dependent no longer has coverage elsewhere and therefore is the coverage effective date with Vanderbilt.

1. Go to the My VU Benefits website.

2. Log in with your VUnetID and ePassword.

3. On the left-hand side of the page, select Life Events.

life event 1

4. Read the explanation text on the Family Status Change introductory page. 

Select Your Event: From the Life Events page, click Enroll for the event type that you wish to declare. From here, the system will walk you through the simple process of changing your benefits. 

life event 2

5. Enter the effective date of your life event and click Enroll Now button

6. Add/Reviewyour dependent’s information: You will be able to add new dependents or update your current dependent information. As you proceed through the enrollment, the coverage levels shown will be based on the number and type of dependents you elect to cover. Please be sure to read the pages carefully as you may be required to certify your dependents by sending in certain documents before they become eligible for benefits.

life event discription

7. Please ensure to tag/add the box next to your dependent’s name at the top section of the screen for all dependents you plan on covering.
select dependents

8. Before making your benefit changes, you will be required to answer a few simple questions that will determine your eligibility.

life event 3

Add/Review Your Dependents: You will also be able to add new dependents or update dependent information. As you proceed through the enrollment, the coverage levels you are offered are based on the number and type of dependents you elect to cover. Please be sure to read the pages carefully as you may be required to certify your dependents by sending in certain documents before they become eligible for benefits.

9. Confirm Your Choices: The last page/section in the enrollment is your confirmation statement, which you can print or email. The site will automatically save a copy for your future reference. If you need to change any of the plan selections you have made, you can go back into the enrollment and make any additional changes through the end of your enrollment period.
life event 4

10. This completes the Family Status Change process. You will be contacted via email if additional information or documentation is needed.

Reminder: you have 30 days from the qualifying life event date to complete your changes. 

Please note: Certain types of family status changes, such as getting married, may require other actions, such as changing your last name. See the Common Qualifying Events section, below, for more information.

Common Qualifying Events

Typically, if you experience a Life Event and wish to add or remove a dependent(s) from your coverage, you must do so within 30 days after the qualifying event date. However, as a result of the National Emergency Declaration due to COVID-19 effective March 2020, participants who experience a qualified life event will have a rolling 12-month period until 30 days after the “Outbreak Period” ends to declare the event. Please contact the benefits team at if your life event is past the typical 30-day window. Changes must be consistent with the qualifying life event.

Family Status Change life events may include:

Marriage - If you wish to add your spouse and newly eligible children to your coverage; or drop your coverage if your spouse is going to cover you under his or her plan. 

Divorce or Legal Separation - You must drop your ex-spouse from your coverage whether divorced or legally separated. Your ex-spouse can opt to continue coverage through  COBRA and will receive the package by mail, so make sure your ex-spouse’s address is updated in your MyVUBenefits portal.

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is defined as a judgment, decree, or order for a retirement plan to pay child support, alimony or marital property rights to a spouse, former spouse, child or other dependent of a participant. Questions related to a QDRO can be directed to

Having or Adopting a Baby/Becoming a Legal Guardian - Regular employees with at least one (1) year of continuous service in a full-time regular position may be eligible for the adoption assistance benefit. See Adoption Assistance Policy for more information.

CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) - The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA) extended the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) through 2013 and renamed it the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Learn more about CHIP. The special enrollment rights under CHIPRA allow the following for qualified Vanderbilt Group Health Plan members:

  • If you or your dependent become eligible for state-granted premium assistance, or you or your dependent's coverage terminates due to a loss of eligibility (as opposed to termination due to failure to pay premiums) under Medicaid, Tennessee's CoverKids program, or a State Children’s Health Insurance Plan, you may enroll in the Vanderbilt Group Health Plan. You must request coverage within 60 days of this special-enrollment qualifying event by making a Family Status Change.
  • If your dependent becomes eligible to receive a premium subsidy from the Child Health Insurance Program, you will be allowed under CHIPRA to disenroll (drop) your dependent from the Vanderbilt Group Health Plan. You must request this coverage change within 60 days of this special-enrollment qualifying event by making a Family Status Change.

Death of a Covered Dependent - If your spouse or child passes away, notify and make the appropriate changes to your employee record and to your benefits.

Death of a Vanderbilt Employee - If you are the surviving spouse or dependent of a Vanderbilt employee, you should notify your loved one's department administrator and the Benefits Office in Human Resources.

Spousal Coverage Changes - If your spouse gains or loses health coverage, or his/her employer's coverage changes significantly during their company's Open Enrollment period, you may want to adjust your benefit elections.

To change your coverage for yourself or your spouse, make a Family Status Change Request within 30 days after the date that the coverage change occurs. Requests cannot be made prior to the date of the change.

Examples of Qualifying Events

Actions You Might Want to Take

Your spouse loses his/her job

Add spouse to your coverage

Your spouse gets a new job

Drop spouse from your coverage or waive your coverage

Your spouse has Open Enrollment at his/her employer

Add or drop your spouse from Vanderbilt's Benefits

Documentation for Family Status Changes

You will not need to provide documentation for a Family Status Change, but Human Resources may contact you at another time for a random audit.

If you are audited, you will need to provide documentation for your Family Status Change. See the list below for documentation examples (the list does not include every possible qualifying event).

  • Marriage- a copy of the marriage certificate (the date of marriage must be within 30 days of the life event effective date).
  • Divorce– a copy of the FINAL divorce decree that includes the file date and judge’s signature. If the divorce is not final, changes cannot be made.
  • Birth – a copy of the birth certificate or the mother’s copy received in the hospital.
  • Adoption – a copy of FINAL adoption papers signed by a judge or a document stating the child has been placed in anticipation of adoption from the adoption agency.
  • Death – a copy of the death certificate.
  • Employment change – if audited, a copy of the hire/termination letter must be on company letterhead and state the hire/termination date and the date the employer-sponsored coverage either began or ended.

If you are audited and you cannot show documentation to support your requested Family Status Change, you would lose your elected coverage and further action could be taken, including termination of employment.

Action Items Checklist for Family Status Changes

  • Change name (if applicable) and marital status.

    Update your name in Oracle by logging in and selecting Personal Information then Personal Details to edit your name and marital status. Finally, please bring a copy of your new social security card to Human Resources located in the Baker Building, Suite 1000.
  • Change tax withholding status (if applicable).

    Update your tax withholding in Oracle by logging in and selecting Pay then Tax Withholding then edit. Be sure to save your changes before exiting.
  • Make changes to benefits (if applicable).

    Review the How to Make a Family Status Change section and follow the steps.

    If you anticipate changes to your health care or dependent care expenses in the upcoming months due to your change in marital status, you may want to begin participating in a Flexible Spending Account. If you already have a Flexible Spending Account, you may want to increase or decrease your contributions.

    Review your retirement account beneficiaries and marital status directly with the investment company and update if needed

Fidelity:          1.800.642.7131 or online

TIAA:             1.800.842.2776

Valic/AIG:      1.800.448.2542

Your life insurance beneficiaries as well as your coverage amounts should be reviewed and updated if needed. Requests to change your coverage level are allowed anytime during the year. See Changing Life Insurance for details on how to apply.