Retirement and health benefits


Q. I retired at 75 percent with a mixed FED CSRS/LE retirement, was not carrying health benefits and DID NOT take a reduced annuity. I have the life insurance 3X. My wife is soon to retire at about 50 percent with 34 years (fed CSRS locked in 21 years plus FERS), and she will be over the MRA of 56. Our Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage is under her name. How should we continue health benefits? How would it affect coverage and her annuity if she DOES NOT take the reduced annuity? I am being told that her annuity is reduced because she has me covered under her health coverage. I though annuity and survivor’s benefits were one thing and health coverage was another.

A. Because you are receiving an annuity and covered under the self and family option of her FEHB plan, she wouldn’t have to elect a survivor annuity for you to be able to continue that coverage if she were to die.

If you had no eligible dependents, you could convert to a self-only enrollment. The only reduction in her annuity would be for the premiums she’d pay for the FEHB coverage. Note: Since you mentioned the U.S. Postal Service, if your wife is employed by them, she is paying a lesser amount in FEHB premiums than other employees and retirees. When she retires, she will be paying the same amount as they do.


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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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