FERS retirement and FEHB


Q. I retired from active duty in 2005. I made a service deposit to buy my academy time. When I reach minimum retirement age+10 next month, I will have 10 years and five months of creditable service (six years and six months since hired, plus three years and 11 months purchased service), more than 240 hours of annual leave and more than 600 hours of sick leave. I’ve gotten a formal Office of Personnel Management retirement estimate to verify my understanding that I can do a MRA+10 retirement this year.

I initially used Tricare for my health insurance, however, to have the option of FEHB later. I enrolled in a Federal Employees Health Benefits self-and-family plan during the open season in 2010.

1. If I leave federal employment next month, I understand I can start a permanently reduced annuity and continue my FEHB. If I choose to defer my annuity to lessen the permanent reduction (say until age 60), am I still able to elect FEHB once I start my FERS annuity? If so, can I commence it when I start my annuity, or do I have to wait until an open season?

2. If I leave federal employment next month and start my FERS annuity (reduced), can I suspend my FEHB coverage and reinstate at a later date?

3. Do either of the above choices affect FEHB coverage for my spouse (assuming that I have self-and-family FEHB)? I plan to elect the smallest survivor benefit in my FERS annuity.

A. If you retire on an immediate annuity, are enrolled in the FEHB program at that time, and the combination of Tricare and FEHB are at least five continuous years, you can continue that coverage into retirement. If you postpone the receipt of your annuity to a later date to avoid the age penalty, you may restart your FEHB coverage when your annuity begins. When you do so, you can select the coverage and plan that you prefer. If you resign from the government and later apply for a deferred annuity, you won’t be eligible to re-enroll in the FEHB program.


About Author

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

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