Getting married brings a lot of changes to your life, and your employee benefits are no exception. Marriage is almost always considered a qualifying life event that makes it possible to make changes outside your employer’s open enrollment period.
Once you get married, it’s time to take a look at your benefits elections and decide what needs to change to reflect your new status. Here’s what you should consider.
1. Health Insurance
There are several things to look at when it comes to your health insurance. “If both of you have coverage through different employers, review both plans to see which one offers the best coverage for the best price,” says Matthew Trujillo, a certified financial planner. Find out whether each person has an individual deductible or whether the deductible is total dollars paid in. Compare the out-of-pocket maximum, premiums, coinsurance and employer subsidy for each plan, too.
Finally, look at whether either employer offers a health savings account or flexible spending account. “My preference is the HSA because the funds don’t have to be used by a certain time frame,” Trujillo says.
2. Other Employee Benefits
It’s important to review these other common employee benefits when you get married:
- Life insurance. Trujillo recommends both spouses have adequate group life insurance coverage to provide income replacement in the event of an unexpected death. Getting married is a good time to check your life insurance coverage, including any policies that may have been taken out in your name when you were born.
- Disability. This is one of the most important benefits to get, says Joshua Lavine, president of Capitol Benefits LLC. “I hear people say all the time that they get their benefits through their spouse. Disability insurance is based on the type of work that you do, not your spouse, and therefore is almost always only available from your own employer.” Because of this, both partners should enroll in their own company-sponsored disability plans.
- Retirement plans. Both spouses should participate in qualified retirement plans at work and take advantage of employer matches if any, Trujillo says. “If money is tight, and one employer offers matching and the other does not then make sure to contribute up to the match for the one plan before considering any deferrals into the other plan.”
3. Legal Services
Some employers offer free legal services for planning wills, trusts, guardianship provisions and other estate planning, Trujillo says, and because marriage is a legal change, now is the time to get your legal documents reviewed. If you don’t have any of these documents, make creating them a priority. “There really is no excuse for not taking advantage of this wonderful benefit.”
4. Tax Planning
Don’t forget to check your pay stub after getting married. “I always advise newly married clients to re-evaluate their tax withholding to make sure they are withholding enough for the combined incomes, but not too much that they are over-withholding,” says Katie Brewer, a financial coach.
“If they use a CPA or tax professional, this is a good time to have a conversation with the tax professional. If they do taxes themselves, a withholding calculator should give a good idea about how to set the withholding.”