Q. How many years of federal employment does one need to be eligible for retiree health insurance? Do employees becomes “vested” in health insurance after a certain number of years? I thought I needed to be working for 10 years with the feds to be eligible for retiree health insurance, but now I am not so sure.

A. You need to be employed full time for five years to be vested in the retirement system. With one exception, you need to be enrolled for the five consecutive years before you retire to carry that coverage into retirement. If you meet the age and service requirements for early retirement, and are offered that opportunity by your agency, you only need to have been enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program before that offer is made.


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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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