Q. I am 49 and will shortly leave federal service, temporarily (I hope). I have 19 years of service and have always been an FEHB subscriber. When I return to federal service in my 50s, will I need to have an additional five years of FEHB-covered service before retiring with FEHB benefits? That is, does the consecutive five-year rule refer to (a) five years before retirement or (b) five consecutive years when one is eligible to subscribe to FEHB? For example, could I return to federal service at age 54 (as an FEHB subscriber) and then retire at my MRA (age 56) while carrying FEHB benefits into retirement?
A. If you were enrolled in the FEHB program when you left and re-enrolled immediately after you returned, the two periods would be treated as one.
Once the combination added up to five years, you could carry that coverage into retirement.