Firefighter retirement and health benefits

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Q. My husband is retiring under mandatory firefighter retirement (age 57 with 34 years of service).  We were told at an agency-sponsored retirement training that his health insurance premiums were deducted pretax.  It was recommended that I go on his health insurance because of this (I will also be a federal retiree but not firefighter).  Now it has come time for him to retire and we are being told this isn’t true.  Can you help?

A. If your husband was having his premiums paid with pretax dollars, an arrangement called “premium conversion,” then the advice he had was sound. If he was not participating in premium conversion, then his premiums were being paid with dollars that were already being taxed. Regardless, retirees aren’t permitted to pay their premiums with pretax dollars.

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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 fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

1 Comment

  1. Kevin Cardwell on

    Check out IRS Pub. 721, page 16. Both CSRS and FERS Firefighter and Law Enforcement are considered “Public Safety Officers” and are eligible to continue “premium conversion” into retirement. The smaller of the insurance premium or $3,000. can be deducted from your gross income Before Taxes.

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