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CMS' RDS Center will be performing system maintenance on the RDS Secure Website on Friday, April 19, 2024 beginning at 9:00PM ET and concluding Saturday, April 20, 2024 at 10:00AM ET. The Secure Website will be available, but file processing will be impacted. Refer to this Announcement for details.

Considerations for Beginning an Application

User Roles:



This section provides information about what Plan Sponsors must consider before beginning an application.


The Application Submission Process cannot be started until the Account Manager completes the Plan Sponsor Account Registration and the Employer Identification Number (EIN) is validated. Additionally, the Account Manager and the Authorized Representative user roles must be assigned and the Account Manager must complete Registration in the RDS Secure Website after the Plan Sponsor ID has been created, before a new application can be started.

Note: The Account Manager or Authorized Representative may also assign a Designee to complete tasks within the Application Submission Process.

The RDS Program Application Submission Process requires preparation time to gather and verify information, and additional time to enter information into the RDS Secure Website. Take the time to prepare for this process.

For more information about the Application Deadline, including what is required to be submitted by the Application Deadline, refer to Important Application Deadline Information.

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Application and Benefit Options Defined

A Plan Sponsor must determine how many applications and how many Benefit Options should be established in the RDS Secure Website.


A Plan Sponsor must submit one application per RDS plan year for each group health plan for which it seeks subsidy. Among other information, the Plan Sponsor must specify a Plan Year Start Date, Plan Year End Date, and a Plan Name, within an application. The duration of a plan year cannot exceed 12 months.

Benefit Option

A Benefit Option is a particular benefit design, category of benefits, or cost-sharing arrangement offered within a group health plan.

A Plan Sponsor can set up applications and Benefit Options in many ways. An application may have a single Benefit Option or multiple Benefit Options; however, if a group health plan has only one Benefit Option, the application must not include more than one Benefit Option.

Example: One Application With One Benefit Option

Diagram illustrating an example of one application with one benefit option.

Example: One Application With Multiple Benefit Options

Diagram illustrating an example of one application with multiple benefit options.

Example: Multiple Applications With Multiple Benefit Options

Diagram illustrating an example of multiple applications with multiple benefit options.

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