Lapse in coverage and five-year rule


Q. I left the government after being enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan for two years. I returned to the government 20 years later and elected to re-enroll. There was a two-week (one pay period) lapse in the coverage due to paperwork processing. I worked for another four years, and then my term appointment expired. Does the two-week lapse in coverage affect the five-year rule?

A. No, it doesn’t. However, the five-year rule only applies to employees who are retiring. Since you weren’t retiring, you were only entitled to 31 days of premium-free coverage, and the option to continue that coverage for up to 18 months at your own expense under the temporary continuation of coverage provision.


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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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