Consolidated Benefits (CoBen)
Consolidated Benefits (CoBen)
Consolidated Benefits (CoBen) is a combined employer contribution towards your dental, vision, and health benefits. The benefit allowance is automatically established in the State Controller’s (SCO) payroll system. No enrollment form is required.
For more information on the program and eligibility please contact your department’s personnel office.
Benefit Allowance – FAQs
What is a CoBen Benefit Allowance?
A CoBen Benefit Allowance is a combined employer contribution towards your health, dental, and vision benefits. This is the amount the state provides you to pay the premiums for your health, dental and vision plans. The benefit allowance is automatically established in the State Controller’s (SCO) payroll system. No enrollment form is required.
Who is eligible for the CoBen Benefit Allowance?
You are eligible for the benefits allowance if you are in a position that is half-time or more and fall into the classifications below:
- Bargaining Unit 2, 7, 8, 16, 17, 18, and 19 employees.
- All employees classified as excluded, exempt and confidential except Judicial Council employees, judges and justices.
- Limited-term (LT) or temporary authorization (TAU) employees appointed to a position with a duration of more than six months(for appointments listed above).
- Seasonal lifeguards (Bargaining Unit 7) and seasonal firefighters (Bargaining Unit 8).
When is my benefit allowance effective?
The effective date is on a prospective basis and based on when you move into or out of an employee designation that is eligible for CoBen.
What happens if the total cost of my health, dental, and vision benefits are less than my allowance?
If the total cost of the plans you choose is less than your benefits allowance, you will receive the difference as taxable cash (excess cash) in your paycheck. The excess cash amount will be subject to state, federal, and social security taxes. You must enroll in health, dental and vision to be eligible for this cash amount.
What happens if the total cost of my health, dental, and vision benefits are more than my allowance?
If the total cost of the plans you choose is more than your benefit allowance, you pay the difference (out-of-pocket) for health and dental with pre-tax dollars automatically deducted from your paycheck. The out-of-pocket amount will not be subject to state, federal, and social security taxes. Any premiums for vision are taken on an after-tax basis.
What happens to my CoBen Benefit Allowance if I receive cash in lieu of health coverage?
If you elect to receive cash in lieu of your state-sponsored health plan but enroll in a state-sponsored dental plan, your dental benefit enrollment party code will be used to determine the amount of the benefit allowance. In this situation, you will receive cash in lieu of health, and your dental and basic vision plan premiums will be fully paid. You will not have an out-of-pocket dental and basic vision premium cost.
In order to receive excess cash, you must be enrolled in health, dental, and vision.
Is there a CoBen Benefit Allowance in retirement?
No. Your benefits allowance will automatically stop at the time of retirement, separation, or loss of eligibility. At retirement, your health and dental deduction (if any) will be shown as the state share and retiree share of the applicable premiums.
Where can I get more information?
If you need more information, please see the 2023 Consolidated Benefits (CoBen) Handbook.
You may also use the Benefits Calculator, which will help you determine how much will be deducted from or added to your paycheck based on which health and dental plans you choose. State basic vision coverage is mandatory under CoBen. The vision premium for the basic plan is automatically added into the calculation.
The CoBen Handbook also includes a worksheet that you may fill out to help calculate your benefit costs. However, the Benefits Calculator has the advantage of being easier to use and allowing you to try different scenarios. You simply choose your bargaining unit, click on your health and dental plan choices, and select the number of dependents that will be covered. The calculator automatically computes the total cost of the benefits and subtracts the benefit allowance. The result shows whether you will have a monthly benefit deduction or receive extra cash and the amount of the deduction or cash.