OPM updates guidance on coverage of dependent children in 2011

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management released updated today its guidance on coverage of dependent children in 2011. Based on guidance from the Health and Human Services Department, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Labor Department, OPM has concluded that it does not have to change its definition of foster child next year. According to OPM’s FEHB Handbook:

To be considered a foster child for health benefits purposes:
·         the child must be unmarried and under age 22 (if the child is over age 22, he/she must beincapable of self-support);
·         the child must live with you;
·         the parent-child relationship must be with you, not solely the child’s biological parent;
·         you must be the primary source of financial support for the child; and
·         you must expect to raise the child to adulthood.
You don’t need to be related to the child nor do you need to legally adopt him/her. As long as the above requirements are met, you may have a foster parent-child relationship even when:
·         the child’s natural parents are alive;
·         the child’s natural parent lives with you; or
·         the child receives some support from sources other than you (for example, social security payments or support payments from a parent).
Common examples of a foster parent-child relationship are:
·         A child whose parents have died is living with, and being supported by, a close relative who is an enrollee.
·         A child who is living with and financially dependent on a grandparent who is an enrollee. (The natural parent of the child may also be a dependent.)
·         A child living with an enrollee under a preadoption agreement.
·         A child who is in the legal custody of an enrollee.
How to Get a Foster Child Covered
For your foster child to be covered under your FEHB enrollment, you must provide documentation of your regular and substantial support of the child; sign a certification stating that your foster child meets all the requirements and that you will notify your employing office if the child marries, moves out of the home, or stops being financially dependent on you.