Life Events and Employment Status Changes

As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

The UNC System Office supports its employees in managing personal and professional events that require changes to your benefits and retirement plans. Whether it is the addition of a new family member, the purchase of a home, change in employment status, or the loss of a loved one, the information below is intended to assist you with making timely changes to your benefits.

For more information or questions about life events, how to make changes to your benefits, or to learn about your benefit continuation options, contact Ronnean Collins, Retirement and Senior Benefits Consultant in the UNC System Benefits Office, at 919-843-5186.

What are Life Events?

During the year, employees who are enrolled in the State Health Plan, NCFlex, and UNC System-sponsored after-tax plans can make changes to their benefit plans resulting from a qualifying life event (QLE). Employees can enroll for the first time, add, or remove dependents from their plans depending on the event. This is separate from the annual open enrollment period each fall.

Enrollment changes must occur within 31 days, and must be consistent with the life event. For example, if you are adding your newborn to your health plan, you can also enroll for the first time or increase your contribution into the Dependent Day Care and/or Healthcare flexible spending accounts.

The benefit effective date for most enrollment changes is the first of the month following the date of the event. The exception is for birth, when enrollment changes are effective the date of the birth.

Employees are required to provide documentation as proof of the event to validate enrollment changes. See the resource section to the right to download a list of pre-approved documents.

Benefit changes that can be made for life events include:

  • Marriage
  • Birth/Adoption
  • Divorce/Legal separation
  • Death of dependent
  • Change in employment status such as going from a permanent position to a temporary position, certain FTE changes, or temporary to a benefits-eligible status.
  • Dependent (spouse) loses coverage because of an employment change or significant benefit change

Making Enrollment Changes for the State Health Plan and NCFlex

Enrollment changes to your State Health Plan and NCFlex benefits are made online through BenefitFocus.

More information about how to make an enrollment change is provided in the “How to Make a Life Event Benefit Change or Update your Beneficiaries” to the right.

Important Things to Know:

  • You must upload the required supporting documentation into the benefits platform at the time of enrollment.
  • QLEs are audited by the plans within 45 days of enrollment. Invalid documents or documents not uploaded will result in coverage termination or reinstatement for the dependent.
  • If the QLE is approved, coverage will be effective on the first of the month following the event (except for birth), which may result in an arrears premium payment being deducted in the next payroll cycle.

Retirement Plan Updates

Review your Mandatory and Supplemental Retirement plans to determine if beneficiary updates are necessary; contact your retirement vendor directly to update or make changes to your beneficiary.

Additionally, a life event provides the opportunity to enroll in a supplemental retirement plan for the first time or make contribution changes. A new salary deferral/agreement should be completed and returned to the System Office HR Benefits office if you are a participant in the State of North Carolina or UNC System Supplemental Retirement program(s).

However, it is important to note that you can enroll in or change your existing contributions to the supplemental retirement plans at any time without experiencing a QLE.

Other Enrollment Changes and Benefits Information

A life event is also an opportunity to update beneficiaries, enroll for the first time, or make changes to your UNC supplemental disability, group term life, and campus after-tax plans. Contact the System Office HR Benefits office for information about enrollment or contribution changes to your UNC System, and campus after-tax plans.

Enrollment changes for the UNC System-sponsored Group Term life insurance or Supplemental Disability plans can be made by downloading the appropriate form for completion.

Employees are encouraged to take advantage of the work/life resources offered through ComPsych to support your and your family’s needs related to the life event.

Leaving the University

Employees separating or retiring from a UNC System institution have certain rights to continue their State Health Plan, NCFlex Benefits, or UNC System-sponsored benefits under COBRA or through portability or conversion. See more details in the Leaving the University document. You will receive information from each carrier related to your benefit continuation options. For information pertaining to your final paycheck, leave payout, and other payroll information, contact System Office HR for assistance.

  • UNC System Inter-campus and State Agency Transfers: If you are transferring to another State of North Carolina agency or UNC System institution, benefits such as retirement, medical, and NCFlex, as well as employee leave balances, may be transferable. 

Contact Us

Contact Ronnean Collins, Retirement and Senior Benefits Consultant in the UNC System Benefits Office, at 919-843-5186 or via email for questions about any life event.




How to Make a Life Event Change or Update Beneficiaries

State Health Plan and NCFlex
Select the Benefits Enrollment link and choose the enrollment link for your institution.

Mandatory Retirement (beneficiary updates only)
TSERS – Log into Orbit to change your beneficiaries
ORP – Optional Retirement Plan (TIAA or Fidelity)

Supplemental Retirement Plans 
Fidelity – UNC 403b/457
NC Plans – NC401k/457
TIAA – UNC 403b/457

UNC System Group Term Life Plan (to enroll or update beneficiaries)
Download the enrollment change form.
Provide a copy of the required documentation for the life event and completed change form to Benefits Office for processing.

UNC System Supplemental Disability Plans
The Standard Disability Plan
Lincoln Disability Plan