FEHB and spousal coverage in retirement

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Q. I am enrolled in FEHB, but my wife has her insurance under her own employer. When I retire, can my wife switch her insurance to FEHB if she retires three year later and keeps her insurance with her employer until she retires? Does she need to be part of FEHB for five years before I retire?

A. Since you are the one enrolled in FEHB, you can switch from self-only coverage to self and family during any Open Season. If you add her while she is still covered by another health benefits plan, one of them will be primary and the other secondary.

You are the only one who has to be covered by FEHB for the five consecutive years before you retire to carry that coverage into retirement. If you were to die while she was under your self and family plan coverage, she could continue that coverage as long as she was receiving a survivor annuity based on your federal employment.

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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 fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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