Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

VERA eligibility and carrying FEHB into retirement

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Q. Now that I’ve turned 65, I’m looking at FERS retirement from Farm Service Agency after 10 years in federal employment. But regarding carrying Federal Employees Health Benefits into retirement, I only have 2½ of the required five years in the plan to date. I had four more FEHB years in the plan under Rural Development, but the two periods were not consecutive.

I understand a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority may be headed my way at FSA. VERA typically expands the eligibility for FEHB into retirement, but I don’t think I qualify for VERA, because they are seeking 20-year employees.

Do I have any options to submit a proposal to either: a) be included in VERA since I’m already in the “62+” age range, or b) request consideration to allow FEHB into retirement considering I’ve had 6½ years in FEHB plan and have 10 years federal service?

A. Under the circumstances you described, you wouldn’t qualify to carry your FEHB coverage into retirement, nor is there any provision in law that would allow you to do so. While you can request that a VERA be extended to you, there is little likelihood that it would be approved. That’s because the conditions under which the Office of Personnel Management granted that authority limit its application to the occupations, grades, organizations and locations spelled out in the agency’s plan.

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