Medicare coverage for pre-1983 federal retiree


Q. My father retired from the federal government in 1976. For whatever reason, he does not have Medicare Part A. My mother recently suffered a stroke, and because my dad did not have Medicare Part A, rehab at a nursing facility will not be covered. Apparently federal workers did not pay into the Social Security system back then and therefore have had to pay separately for Part A. It took hours of calls to SSA, OPM and Medicare to unravel this bureaucratic mess! BCBS (federal) is his secondary insurance and would not pay because Medicare A is primary.

(BCBS was no help — we tried to get a special benefit created for her, which they could have done, but it was denied.) My dad will be 93 soon, so I do not know how many of these retirees are still alive and were in similar situations and did not know nursing rehab would not be covered.

I wonder if at some time Medicare Part A did not cover nursing rehab and since BCBS is primary for inpatient hospital care, he was advised not to sign on for Part A, which also covers inpatient hospital care.

It is a sad situation for the last of his generation of federal retirees.

A. Unfortunately, no one who was employed under the Civil Service Retirement System paid Medicare taxes until the law was changed in 1983.

There were only two ways your father could have acquired that coverage after he retired. First, through earnings from wages or self-employment from which Social Security and Medicare taxes were deducted. Second, by electing to purchase Part A coverage by filing an application at a Social Security office and pay a monthly premium.


About Author

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

Leave A Reply