Five-year rule


Q. I am 64 years old and will have five years of federal service in February. But for the first seven months (until September 2008), I was a seasonal employee for the Internal Revenue Service, until I became reinstated and was permanent full time. I could then sign up for my Federal Employees Health Benefit plan under FERS. One catch: I don’t have the five straight years of coverage under FEHB (I’m still nine months short). Can I retire in February and carry my health benefits into retirement, even though I don’t have five years of coverage? Or do I have to wait until September 2013?

A. Here’s the rule. You must be continuously enrolled for the five consecutive years before you retire (or from your first opportunity to enroll) to carry that coverage into retirement. If you weren’t eligible to enroll while a seasonal employee, you would only have to establish that you enrolled at your first opportunity. Check with your personnel office.


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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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