I live and work in New York City; my employer is a large not-for-profit (thousands of employees). This past November I enrolled in my employer's annual benefits-enrollment period. For the first time in my 5-year employment, I enrolled my husband as a dependent. We did this online together, and everything appeared fine; once my submission appeared to go through, he submitted his refusal of benefits to his employer. No errors occurred, nor did I get any notice about the submission being incomplete. It was a stressful moment for both of us because we were worried about a lapse in benefits, so we were very careful about it.
Fast forward to today: I noticed that my benefits did not appear to include my husband as a dependent, so I immediately wrote to my employer's benefits office for clarification. I was informed that, although they have a record of me entering my husband into the online enrollment forms, the enrollment was never "committed". I don't know precisely what this means in terms of their software, but they claim that I ignored a large error banner on the online forms. This is not true, but they also claim that there is no possible way to review and/or appeal this error, especially after so much time has passed. Essentially, they claim that my husband is out of luck and will be ineligible for health-care coverage for the entire year as a result. I firmly believe that we did nothing wrong, that this is their error, and that it is completely unacceptable that a clerical and/or software error means that we are forced to gamble with my husband's life and our financial solvency.
They have told me so far that they cannot change anything because doing so would be illegal and that there is no appeals process. If this is really the case, then I would like to know:
What options do I have to escalate and/or appeal this issue outside of my employer. Specifically, are there government agencies to which I can submit a complaint that my employer has failed to perform due diligence regarding my husband's coverage? Is there a government agency or other organization whose mission is to assist people with this kind of problem? An earlier comment (now deleted I think) suggested the department of labor; other similar resources would be much appreciated.
Thanks in advance.
- A good suggestion from comments was to talk to my union! Unfortunately, I have reached out to our union, and my position is not actually represented.
- I contacted the NY Department of Labor; they informed me that because there is no regulation of employer benefits in NY state, there is nothing they can do. But also, because there is no regulation, there is nothing preventing my employer from enrolling my husband.
- I also contacted the NY state employee benefits security administration; they are going to contact my employer to ask what is going on. It's not clear to me what, if anything, they are empowered to do beyond ask. They said I would likely hear back from them in 2-4 weeks.