Dependent Eligibility

Dependent Eligibility

For most University benefits, including Medical, Prescription, Vision, and Dental, dependents—your spouse or same-sex domestic partner, and eligible children—can be covered if you verify they meet certain requirements.



Both Spouses Work at Columbia

If you and your spouse both work for the University and are eligible for coverage, choose coverage in one of the following ways:

  • One spouse makes the choice for the entire family, including eligible dependent children, if any. In this case, the other spouse selects “No Coverage”; or
  • Each spouse enrolls separately and one spouse covers eligible dependent children.

Requirements to Cover Your Dependents

Legal spouse

  • Legal marriage

Same-sex domestic partner, provided your partner is:

  • At least 18 years old;
  • Not related to you by blood;
  • Not legally married to another person;
  • Of the same gender;
  • Each other's sole domestic partner and intend to remain so indefinitely;
  • Not domestic partner of someone else;
  • Shares the same principal residence with you full-time and has done so continuously for the past 24 months;
  • Shares financial responsibilities with you, such as co-ownership of property and joint financial accounts;
  • Has power of attorney.

Legally dependent children, including:

  • Biological or adopted children
  • Stepchildren
  • Foster children
  • Children for whom you have a court-appointed legal guardianship

Dependent children are covered:

  • Until the end of the month in which they turn age 26;
  • For EmblemHealth Dental coverage, until the end of the calendar year in which they turn age 19*
  • At any age if they have a physical or mental disability, provided that when they were diagnosed, they were covered dependents and it was prior to the end of the month in which they turned 26;
  • If you're a newly eligible employee and your disabled child is older than age 26 when you are electing coverage, you may apply to cover your child when your coverage begins;
  • If you're an eligible employee when your child meets this definition, you must apply for continued coverage before the end of the month in which he or she turns age 26.
  • If a court has appointed you as the legal guardian for any child from birth to age 26.

Please note that eligible children are defined differently for Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Health Savings Account (HSA), Tuition Benefits programs and Dependent Life Insurance.

*Applies to Non-Union Support Staff and members of 2110, TWU and SSA.


You do not have to cover the same eligible dependents for the medical and dental plans. For each plan, you have the choice of covering:

  • Yourself only;
  • Yourself and your spouse or eligible same-sex domestic partner;
  • Yourself and a child or children; or
  • Family: you, your spouse or eligible same-sex domestic partner, plus children.

To make a change to dependent eligibility, log in to CUBES with your UNI and password, choose "Change in Family Status?" and follow the prompts.

When your dependent is no longer eligible, it is your responsibility to report this change to the Columbia Benefits Service Center within 31 days of the change.

The University is required to ensure only eligible expenses are paid from its plans. This requirement is consistent with IRS regulations that govern the operation of a qualified benefits plan.

Verifying Dependent Eligibility

If you are adding a dependent spouse, same-sex domestic partner, or child(ren) to your coverage, you are required to provide documentation before the dependent’s coverage is effective. If you are not able to provide proof your dependent is eligible for coverage, your dependent’s coverage will not be activated.

  • To add your dependent at the time you enroll in your own benefits, or due to a Qualified Life Status Change, log in to CUBES with your UNI and password, and follow the prompts.
  • After you’ve completed enrollment, an alert will appear on your record. Click “Alerts” to go to the Dependent Verification page to upload your documentation.

If you have questions or cannot scan documents, contact the Columbia Benefits Service Center: 212-851-7000.

Remember: You must enroll for benefits within 31 days of your date of hire or eligibility.

Important: For security reasons, please remove all Social Security Numbers from paperwork—you should enter Social Security Numbers directly into CUBES when first adding your dependents.

Types of Documentation

*If your document is in a foreign language, please submit a copy of the original document as well as a notarized English translation. The document must be translated by someone other than yourself or your family member.

Important Notice

Social Security Numbers for Dependents

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the IRS requires all employers to collect the Social Security Number (SSN) for all employees and their dependents covered by benefits plans. SSNs are required to add a dependent to your coverage. If you have dependents who do not have SSNs, please call the Columbia Benefits Service Center: 212-851-7000.