Carrying Your Federal Insurance Benefits Over Into Retirement by Ray Yon
For those that have just retired or are planning to retire in the near future, you might not be sure as to what occurs to your insurance coverage that is offered to federal workers.
The only benefit that is related to insurance that does not carry over once you are retired is the Federal Flexible Spending Account (FSAFEDS).
The benefits that do carry over are the following: Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI), Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP), Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), and the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).
We will go over some information on continuing these insurance benefits when you retire.
What are the requirements to continue the benefits mentioned above?
When it comes to FEGLI and FEHBP, you must have had coverage for at least five years to carry these benefits over into retirement. The five years requirement is the same for Basic FEGLI, along with each option it offers. To know more about requirements for FEGLI, what the coverage is in your retirement years, the five-year test, procedures, and more, you can find valuable information in the FEGLI Handbook, which can be found on the Office of Personnel Management’s website www.opm.gov.
For FLTCIP and FEDVIP, workers that are already enrolled when retiring can keep their benefits. Those that did not have the coverage before retiring are still able to enroll for these benefits.
Both FEDVIP and FEHBP have an open season each year that runs at the same time, which is every November and December for about four to five weeks. The coverage then goes into effect the following year on January 1st for retirees.
You can enroll in FLTCIP at any time of the year if you can pass the medical underwriting. Both you and your spouse will be able to enroll for this benefit. Also, keep in mind that your premiums are also based on the age you enroll.
Many people wonder if FEHBP costs will be different once you are in retirement. The good news is that the government contribution carries over for those that can continue their coverage while retired. You will only be obligated to pay the amount that workers are obligated to pay, which will be withheld from your benefits.
If you are currently working your federal post, more than likely you are partaking in a premium conversion that has a portion of your pay go towards your FEHBP coverage, pre-tax. This is not available to retirees.
If you are married to another federal worker, and one of you plans to retire before the other person, it may be beneficial if the federally employed person was to be paying the FEHBP premiums out of their paycheck as it is before taxes. The amount that is saved from taxes tends to be more than the savings of two plans under FEHBP rather than one plan with the spouse added to the other.
Once both of you are retirees, it may be better to switch over to two individual plans as it tends to be less in costs than one plan with an additional person.
For those that are married to non-feds, if you pass away before your spouse, they will be able to continue their FEHBP and FEDVIP benefits under yourself plus one enrollment if they are the designated beneficiary and are receiving the survivor’s benefits.
The survivor annuity requirement can be fulfilled by electing for the partial or maximum spousal survivor option when putting in your retirement claim. If the spouse has their own FEHBP coverage because they are a current or retired federal employee, they will be able to transfer or continue your FEHBP coverage to their own pay or retirement benefit pay.
If you are not retired but are still working for the federal government when you die, your designated survivors can still receive the government contribution and benefits as current and retired federal workers participating in the same program.
If the survivor’s annuity can cover the premium, the premium amount will be deducted from the annuity benefits.
When it comes to the expenses on FEDVIP, this should not change once you are retired. The premiums are determined at a group rate and will be taken from your retirement benefit each month once your retirement request has been completed. There is no government contribution for this benefit, so federal workers that are still having their retirement claims put through may receive an individual bill for this plan until their retirement claim is finished. Also, this benefit is paid with pre-tax dollars of current workers. However, for those who are retired, this benefit is paid with after-tax dollars withholdings.
For those that are curious if you can cut the cost of your FEGLI plan by cutting some of its coverage, this can be done for both current and retired federal employees whenever they wish.
Current workers can cut some or all of their coverage under FEGLI if they send in an SF2817 form to their HR office and then enroll for the FEGLI coverage that they wish to maintain. The retired workers only have to write a letter to the Office of Personnel Management. Any coverage that they wish to reduce or cancel must be detailed out and have the insured retiree’s original signature on the document. They must list their Social Security number or their retirement claim number. Also, keep in mind that coverage can only be reduced or canceled, but not increased or reinstated after cancellation once retired.
Many people may wish to cancel their FEGLI and substitute this life insurance policy for another as the premiums for FEGLI Option rises every five years until you are the age of 80. These increases after age 50 can be quite hefty, but keep in mind that this life insurance policy covers those in the federal family, no matter what their health situation or other factors may be. Other insurance policies out there do not tend to overlook these matters as they use them to determine your eligibility for life insurance.