Annuities, health care for dual-fed couples

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Q: My husband and I are both federal law enforcement officers. The family health plan is under my husband. We both plan to retire this year. He wants me to waive my survivor annuity and he says I will still be covered under our federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan because I was covered for the last five years of my employment under the Federal Employees Health Benefits family plan that he carried. He wants a bigger retirement check. My question is, if I sign the survivor annuity waiver and he dies before me, am I still automatically covered under our FEHB plan because I was also a federal retiree and would have been eligible for coverage? I think he is wrong and will not sign any waiver. I told him there is no “federal spouse rule” laid out in the Office of Personnel Management’s guidelines concerning FEHB.

A: Whether you decide to waive your entitlement to a survivor annuity is entirely up to you. However, your husband’s explanation of why you would be able to continue your FEHB coverage if he were to die before you is wrong. As long as you are covered under his FEHB plan enrollment and either employed or receiving an annuity when he dies, you would be able to continue that coverage. As the one carrying the enrollment, it’s your husband who needs to be enrolled for the five consecutive years before he retires, not you.

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  1. since both are federal retirees, if she doesn’t need family coverage, it maybe cheaper to buy two individual policies.

  2. I’m in same position. The retirement specialist I’ve been talking to says:

    If your husband retires, he can continue to carry the health insurance into retirement (if you choose to do it this way). If he dies, or if you were to get divorced you will be eligible to pick up the health insurance in your own name since you will be a Federal annuitant and since you have been covered under Federal health insurance.

    The provision regarding electing the survivor annuity does not apply in this case (because you will be eligible to pick up the coverage in your own name). It applies to someone whose spouse is not a Federal employee. In that case, the employee must elect at least a minimum survivor benefit in order for the spouse to be eligible to continue the health insurance after the death of the retiree.

    She also says that if we do NOT have children covered under the Self+Family; then, two Self-Only plans would be cheaper.

    All that being said, my agency HR Department thinks the retirement specialist is incorrect & that my husband needs the survivor benefit in the event of his death, in order for my health insurance coverage to continue. The retirement specialist plans to send me references to the rule to corroborate her opinions. My bets are on the retirement specialist, but I’ll be glad to see the guidance pointed out to me in the OPM FEHB Handbook.

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