Health insurance for retirees


Q: I am a CSRS employee thinking of retiring next year. My husband is on my BCBS policy. My retirement adviser said that when I retire I have to decide whether or not I want to keep my spouse on my policy. If so, then I need to claim the minimal survivor benefit for him. However, when my husband turns 65 he may want to go to Tricare for Life as he is a retired Naval officer. If he does that, then can I cancel the minimal survivor benefit? My advisor says no. Also, if my husband decides to use his employer’s insurance rather than mine for now, can he change his mind later and can I add him back to my policy later?

A: If your spouse is covered under your health benefit plan and you intend for that coverage to continue after you retire, you would have to provide a survivor annuity for him. Because you are a CSRS employee, you may elect any amount from $1 a year up to 55 percent of your annuity. That way, if you were to die before him, he’d be able to keep that health benefits coverage. If he wasn’t entitled to a survivor annuity, his coverage would stop. While he’s free to elect Tricare for Life when he reaches age 65 and allow you to drop him from your coverage, you cannot rescind the survivor annuity you elected for him. If he later changed his mind and dropped his Tricare enrollment, you could always add him to your coverage during the next open season.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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