FEHB and spousal coverage in retirement


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.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to fedexperts@federaltimes.com.


  1. I have been a federal employee f0r 10 years.my wife has been a federal employee for 5 years.my wife bought fehb for me and my children.i am 64 yerars old now.my wife 53 now.so can I switch her fehbto my name so that I and my wife will retire next year and can buy fehb the rest of life

    • If your wife enrolled in the FEHB program when she went to work for the government and will have been enrolled in it for 5 years, she can continue that Self Plus One coverage when she retires. Or, although there wouldn’t be any point to it, she could switch the enrollment from her to you. However, if she has not been enrolled in the program for 5 years, she could not carry the coverage into retirement and switching the enrollment from her name to yours wouldn’t change that.

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