Health benefits in retirement


Q. I am 55 years old with 35 years of civil service under CSRS retirement. Do I need to take survivors benefits to be able to have health benefits for my husband and myself?

A. If you didn’t elect a survivor benefit for your husband but were enrolled in either the Self and Family or Self Plus One option when you retire, he could continue to be covered by your FEHB plan while you are alive. However, if you died, he could only continue that coverage if he was either a current or retired federal employee. If he wasn’t, he would lose that coverage.


About Author

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


  1. I am FERS and eligible to keep my medical insurance after retirement–question is, do I need to enroll my husband before retirement in order for him to qualify or can I enroll him at an open season after retirement if insurance is needed. By the same token, if he is enrolled before I retire, can I take him off my plan at open season after retirement if he no longer needs insurance. Thank you

  2. My husband retired in 2010 under FERS. I am currently covered under his retiree medical. We just learned because he didn’t choose a survivor benefit, should he died before me, I will lose coverage. If he should die before me, how long before my coverage would end. Would I have the opportunity to covert to an individual policy? If so, how would I find out the approximate cost?

    • The coverage would end after 31 days. You would have to check with his plan to see if they offer an individual policy and what it would cost.

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