Retirement health insurance/survivors benefits


Q. Both my wife and I are federal employees, I work for the Bureau of Prisons and my wife for the Postal Service. She currently carries the health insurance because the post office covers a greater portion of the cost. I understand that I must carry health insurance for myself for three years before I retire in order to be covered in retirement if she were to die before me. But I heard that since I am already covered in FEHB through my wife, if she were to die I would be able to continue coverage through the BOP, without having to pay survivors benefits. Is this true?

A. You only need to be covered by your wife’s health benefits plan to continue that coverage in your own name if she were to die before you. There isn’t any limit on the amount of time that you would have to be covered. To carry that coverage into retirement, you would need to have been covered or enrolled in the FEHB program for five years before you retired.


About Author

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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