Blue Cross vs. Medicare


Q. I retired under CSRS Offset (disability) from the federal government at age 52 in 2005 with 26 years of service. I was told by human resources that, at age 62, it is mandatory that I apply for Social Security retirement, and if I did not do so, I would be subject to an overpayment that must be repaid. HR also told me that I would have no choice in the matter — that after applying for Social Security at age 62, my federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance would become secondary and Medicare would become primary health carrier. Is this the case? Must I retire at 62, and must I give up my Blue Cross health care for Medicare?

A. Either you misheard or you were misinformed. Because you are a CSRS Offset retiree, at age 62, your CSRS annuity will be reduced (offset) by the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while a CSRS Offset employee. You’ll still receive the same amount, but part of it will come from the Office of Personnel Management and the rest from the Social Security Administration. At age 65, you’ll be entitled to Medicare Part A coverage because you already paid for it through payroll deductions while working. Whether you apply for Medicare Part B is up to you. Medicare Part A will be primary and your Federal Employees Health Benefits plan secondary. If you don’t enroll in Part B, your FEHB plan will be your only coverage; however, the benefits will conform to the payment rules for Medicare Part B.


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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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