Survivor annuity vs. FEHB


Q. I am a federal employee and have had Federal Employees Health Benefits for myself and my husband for 20+ years. My husband is retired military with Tricare for Life. I plan to retire on FERS and keep our FEHB for myself and my husband. If I choose to not have survivor benefits and I die before my husband, will he be allowed to keep the FEHB coverage since he receives a military retirement pension and has always had Tricare for Life through the military? In other words, can he keep FEHB and have the premiums taken out of his military retirement pension since he will not be receiving a survivor annuity?

A. No, he can’t.


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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


  1. I have an option to switch for Tricare for Life (TCL). I am retired military (33 yrs active and reserve. ) and recieve a military retirement. I am also currently working as a civilian under CSRS (39 years). My wife and I have been covering under FEHB since 1981.

    My wife is turning 65 in Dec and need to sign up for SS and Medicare. The debate is “which is better…continuing in FEHB or switching to Tricare for Life?” As I understanding it we would have to pick up Medicare A and B and then Tricare for Life.

    Any recommendations on what approach is better…sticking with FEHB of switching to TCL?

    • Because this is a site that deals with federal civilian benefit, I don’t know anything about the benefits provided by Tricare for Life. Therefore, I can’t make a comparison. However, what I can tell you is that all the former military employees who have told me about their experience have said that suspending FEHB coverage in favor of Tricare for Life has been a good decision.

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