Minimum service time to carry insurance into retirement


Q. I now have 2½ years of government service and am 66. When I retire in 2½ years, I’ll have five years with the government. Will I get the option to retain my Federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama health insurance? If I would rather quit working for the government in one year, do I lose the opportunity to keep my federal BC/BS of Alabama coverage? I have total time in government employment today of only three years. I am contemplating quitting next year. What is the impact to my federal BC/BS insurance coverage? I signed up for Medicare Part A, but not Part B. I hope I can keep health insurance with BC/BS of Alabama and make that my secondary plan once I leave government employment.

A. You would have to have five years of service to retire. If you had been enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program for that same amount of time, you could carry that coverage into retirement. If you quit before having five years of service, you wouldn’t be entitled to an annuity. You would only be entitled to a refund of your retirement contributions, plus accrued interest. You would be able to receive health benefits for 31 days at no cost to yourself, after which you would be able to continue that coverage for up to 18 months by paying the entire premium, plus 2 percent interest. At the end of that period, your coverage would cease and you’d be on your own.


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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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