Postponed retirement and FEHB


Q: My wife and I are federal employees and under FERS. Each of us has had individual coverage under FEHB (Blue Cross Blue Shield) since we began working for the government. We plan on retiring next year at the end of June. She will be 61 and have 26 years of service. I will be 58 and have 20 years of service. I will qualify under the MRA +10, but postpone my retirement until I become 60 in order to avoid the age penalty.

One option we are looking at is converting to a family plan this open season so that I am covered during those two years of my postponement. Then I would once again pick up on my own FEHB individual plan at 60. Is this the correct way to guarantee that I maintain my FEHB enrollment for the past five year test and still be able to switch to an individual FEHB plan when I begin collecting my annuity at age 60?

As another option, if we keep our FEHB individual plans until my wife retires and I postpone in June 2010, can we switch at that point to a family plan using a Qualifying Life Event, then when I turn 60 and I start up my annuity could I switch back to a individual plan?

A: The first option is a safer bet. However, you won’t be able to switch to individual coverage when you retire. You’ll only be able to do that during the following open season. The second option is chancier because there isn’t any qualifying event that exactly matches what you are proposing.


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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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