Five-year rule


Q. I have been working for the federal government for 40 years: six years in the Army, nine years in civil service, and the post office the rest of the time. I always paid in to the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan (except Army years) but I had to drop out for two years. Now I need to retire, but I will be four months short of the five-year minimum to take the FEHB into retirement. Does the Office of Personnel Management do waivers in this requirement? I am not on a VERA from the post office, but they offer voluntary early retirement. Am I going to have to make the next four months to qualify? Any suggestions?

A. You would only be able to carry your FEHB coverage into retirement with less than five years if you were covered under the program continuously since the beginning date of your agency’s latest statutory buyout authority. If you were, you’d receive a pre-approved waiver. You’ll have to check with your personnel office to see if that’s the case.


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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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