Health insurance, retirement and cancer


Q. I have prior CSRS service with a break in employment. I am now CSRS Offset. I did not get health insurance when I returned to service because I was covered by the Veterans Affairs Department. I picked it up during open season the following year. I can retire in two years at age 62. I will need one more year to have my five years to carry my health insurance into retirement for my disabled husband. The trouble is, I have terminal cancer. My life expectancy is two years. I hope to make it to retirement but worry beyond that. I have been told I can ask for a waiver from the Office of Personnel Management because I am terminal. Is this correct?

A. OPM may waive the eligibility requirement if it concludes that your failure to meet it was due to exceptional circumstances and that it would be against equity and good conscience not to allow you to be enrolled as an annuitant. To apply for a waiver, write to:

OPM, Retirement Benefits Branch

1900 E Street NW

Washington, DC 20415

Your request must include all health benefits enrollment forms or electronic enrollment verification, your service history, the exact date you plan to retire and any medical documentation you want OPM to consider.


About Author

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


    • Unless you cancelled your Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance Policy, it would have continued in force and you would have had the premiums for that coverage deducted from either your salary or your annuity. At age 65, you were no longer required to pay any premiums, unless you chose to continue that coverage the full or 75 percent level. If you didn’t, your coverage began to decline until it reached 25 percent of its original value, where it will stay.

      Because Medicare deductions were taken from your pay, you are covered by Part A at no cost to yourself. If you elected to be covered by Part B,you would have to pay the premiums to continue that coverage. Any service you receive would be covered under Medicare rules. If you are also enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, Medicare would be the primary payer and your FEHB plan the secondary payer. Any amounts not covered by them would have to be paid by you.

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