FEHB and the 5-Year Requirement by Dan Hartenstein

Federal Employee Health Benefits information from Dan Hartenstein

Dan Hartenstein

If you’re a federal employee who is covered under the FEHB (Federal Employees Health Benefits) program and you are considering retirement in the near future, there are some things you may need to think about if you want to take your benefits with you after you leave your employer.

When you retire, you are allowed to continue your FEHB benefits – provided that you meet all of the following criteria:

  • Immediate Annuity – First, you are entitled to retire on an immediate annuity under a retirement system for civilian employees. This includes a Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) minimum retirement age requirement. What this means is that if you have at least ten years of service and you retire at the minimum retirement age, or MRA, then your annuity will be reduced for each month in which you are under the age of 62;


  • 5 Years of Service – There is also a 5-years of service requirement. This means that you must have been enrolled continuously – or you have been covered as a family member – in any of the FEHB plans, for the five years of services that immediately precede the date that your retirement annuity begins, or for the full period (or periods) of service since your initial opportunity to enroll.1

When considering the five years of service requirement, “service” can refer to the time that you were in a position where you were eligible to be enrolled. In this case, you would not have had to be enrolled on a continuous basis. However, you would have had to be covered continuously by FEHB enrollment.

If you did happen to have a break in your service, the break would not be counted as an interruption in your five years of service, provided that you re-enrolled within 60 days after you returned to Federal service.

Surviving spouses may also be eligible to continue FEHB coverage following either an employee’s or a retired employee’s death. In order to be eligible for this continuation of coverage, the spouse must either be entitled to receive a survivor annuity, or they must be enrolled on a self and family plan as of the date of the employee or retiree’s passing.2


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