Recognized religious sects? affordable care act

Asked about 1 year ago - Eugene, OR

Hello! I wonder if you know SPECIFICALLY which 'religious sects' are recognized by the U.S. Government in regards to the upcoming "Affordable" Care Act.
is there an established list or can your own private religion be recognized.
Also, out of curiosity, who/what group decides what is recognized.
much thanks!

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Thomas Ifversen

    Contributor Level 12


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Maybe I am missing the point of your question. How does your religion play into the implementation of the Affordable Care Act? The Government is not allowed to treat people of different religions/religious sects/no religion differently, as it would violate the equal protection clause as well as the first amendment. The question you have posted here is about recognized religions. Again, the Government is not allowed to differentiate anyone based upon religion, so there is no central "database" of religions other than the IRS which is going to have administrative powers to tax based upon their own criteria for qualification for the religious exemption. If you have your own religion, you should consult a tax lawyer who can tell you what the IRS requires in order to qualify.

  2. Peter A Arhangelsky

    Contributor Level 4


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . Hello,

    The Affordable Care Act's (ACA) religious conscience exemption mirrors other similar tax exemptions in the federal code. The religion must meet criteria for an exemption from the Social Security tax (as determined by the Social Security Administration).

    In February 2013 the Secretary of HHS published proposed rules governing the ACA's religious conscience exemption. HHS will require that the religious sect be "recognized by the Social Security Administration as an approved religious sect or division under [the tax code]" (note that the HHS rule is only a proposed rule; the criteria could change). So HHS simply adopts the SSA's decisions when determining whether a religion is exempted. Ultimately, if the Social Security Administration does not recognize the religious sect or division under the Social Security tax exemption, the Health Exchange must reject the request for an exemption under the ACA.

    In short, you need to clear the religion with the SSA before applying for an ACA exemption. If the religion is not already approved, you may face an uphill battle. HHS explained in its proposed rule that: "we note that our understanding is that there are few, if any, religious sects or divisions that could be approved ... that have yet to be approved, as this provision of the Code requires that a sect or division to have been in existence at all times since December 31, 1950." The SSA should maintain a list of organizations already approved, which mostly include the Amish and certain Mennonite sects.

    Your state must have its Health Exchange operational by January 1, 2014, which is also when the famous individual mandate becomes effective. Those Exchanges are responsible for processing exemption requests, so you would contact the local exchange for specific information about the petitioning process if you belong to an exempt religion.

    No attorney-client relationship is created by this communication. The information provided herein is for... more
  3. Christopher Edward Ezold


    Contributor Level 17

    Answered . I am an attorney licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the States of Delaware and New Jersey. My practice includes employment, business and health care law. Before I respond to your inquiry, I must state that we have not spoken, I have not reviewed the relevant documents and facts, and I do not represent you. Therefore, my discussion below is not a legal opinion, but is informational only. Finally, my discussion applies only to issues to which Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey or Federal law applies.

    That being said, attorney Arhangelsky gave an excellent answer. I would add that your 'own personal religion' will not be recognized; it must be an established religion. "Conscientious objector" status is essentially what I think you are implying here, and it will not be recognized for the purposes of the ACA.

    /Christopher E. Ezold/

    The Ezold Law Firm, P.C.
    Employment, Business and Health Law
    One Belmont Avenue, Suite 501
    Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
    (610) 660-5585

    I am an attorney licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the States of Delaware and New Jersey. My... more

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