Postponed retirement and FEHB

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Q. I am a Veterans Affairs Department term employee with 28 years of service, 57 years old. My term appointment has only been extended to Jan. 31, 2013, with a “continuation of ongoing research funds.” If research funds are not available to pay me past this date, I understand that I can retire under the MRA +10 provision and postpone receipt of my annuity until I am 60 to avoid the age reduction penalty. And, at that time, can re-enroll for Federal Employees Health Benefits since I will have been enrolled for the previous five years. If I choose not to retire but rather am terminated due to lack of funds, will I still be able to re-enroll in FEHB? I have been told that choosing the retirement option will affect eligibility for unemployment benefits, but I certainly don’t want to lose health coverage in retirement.

A. If you have been covered by the FEHB program for five consecutive years, retire and postpone the receipt of your annuity, you’ll be able to re-enroll in it when your annuity begins. If you are terminated and later apply for a deferred annuity, you wouldn’t be able to re-enroll in the FEHB program.

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