Q. I have 20 years of service at 50 years of age. I am thinking about leaving the government. I plan to defer my retirement. I understand if I do this, I will lose my health and life benefits. I also understand I would not lose them if I wait until I am 56. My question is, if I return to the government when I am 57, and retire at 60, will I be eligible to receive full retirement benefits? That would give me 23 years of service at 60.
A. As you stated, no one who leaves government before being eligible for an immediate annuity is eligible to re-enroll in either the FEHB or FEGLI programs. On the other hand, if you retire at your minimum retirement age with at least 10 years of service, you would be eligible for an immediate annuity under the MRA+10 provision and be able to continue your coverage under both programs as long as you had been enrolled in them for the five consecutive years before you retire. However, your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year you were under age 62, unless you had at least 20 years of service; in that case, the reduction would apply up to age 60. Finally, if you returned to work for the government, have at least 20 years of service and retire at age 60, you’d be entitled to an immediate unreduced annuity based on your total years of service. And you would be able to keep your FEHB and FEGLI coverage when you retired, as long as the unbroken combination of enrollment time in those programs before you left government and after you returned equaled 5 years.