Five-year rule and FEHB spouse coverage


Q. My husband has been a federal worker for 20+ years and is 56 years old. Because my health insurance is cheaper at my nonfederal job, we have been on my work health plan. We both want to be on the federal health plan when he retires. How long does my husband have to be on the federal health plan before retirement so he is covered after retirement? When do I have to join the federal health plan so I am covered after retirement?

A. He must be enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program for the five consecutive years before he retires to carry that coverage into retirement. You can’t join the program; however, he can include you in that coverage by electing the self-and-family option of the plan in which he enrolls.


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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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