Health insurance, spouse benefits after retirement


Q. My spouse, is a federal employee who has been covered by FEHB, enrolled as “self only” for six years. I am not employed by the government, and have a health policy of my own through my employer. My spouse would like to retire in four years, as would I. If he adds me to his policy during open enrollment at the end of this year (and I drop my own coverage) will I be eligible for retirement coverage if he (and/or I)  retires in three or four years?  Or must he remain employed with the government for a full five years after I enroll in order for me to be covered in retirement?  He just attended a two-day pre-retirement workshop in which they said I could enroll as late as a month before he retires, and still be eligible for coverage.  I don’t read the policy that way.  It seems pretty clear that I, the spouse, must be covered by FEHB for five years prior to his retirement in order for me to be eligible after his retirement.

A. You may not read the policy that way but the retirement counselor was correct. Your husband needs to be covered for the five consecutive years before retirement; you only have to be covered by his self and family enrollment when he retires. Even if you weren’t, he could add you at the next health benefits open season after he retired.


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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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