Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Retirement eligibility and spouse’s medical coverage

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Q. I am 64 and have worked for the Transportation Security Administration for 2½ years. I would like to retire when I reach 65 next year when Medicare becomes available to me. But my wife is one year younger. Is there a COBRA system so she can be covered for the one year before her Medicare kicks in?

A. You can’t retire next year. You can only resign. To retire, you’d need to be employed for five years to be vested in the retirement system. The temporary continuation of coverage provision would allow your wife to be covered for up to 18 months if her coverage under your Federal Employees Health Benefits self-and-family option ends when you leave government. That would be the case if you had fewer than five consecutive years of coverage under the FEHB program when you left government.

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