Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Health coverage for spouse

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Q. I am 48 and will be eligible to retire in two years as I will have over 20 years in federal law enforcement. I am signed up for a family plan under FEHB which covers my 42-year old wife and a three-year-old daughter.  My wife just started a Federal job that will also give her access to FEHB. As I understand it, we will continue to be covered under my FEHB for life, and my wife would just decline enrollment when she starts her job. Does this make financial or prudent sense? We don’t believe she will work long enough to be officially retired so her benefits would not last into her retirement, only under mine. Read the rest of this entry »

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BC/BS and VA

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Q. I will turn 65 next May and have retired from the post office after 33 years. I have BC/BS with the post office, and I’m also with the VA. What happens with my coverage from the post office when I turn 65? Do I have to keep the coverage since I’m with the VA?

A. Your BC/BS enrollment is under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. It doesn’t make any difference which agency you were working for when you enrolled or which one you are working for now.

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Dropping daughter’s coverage

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Q. I am enrolled in the Federal BCBS (self + family plan) and wanted to drop our 18-year-old daughter from the plan as she has moved out and does not associate with the family any longer. My local rep said this wasn’t possible but couldn’t state exactly why I couldn’t drop her … just said it couldn’t be done. I wasn’t comfortable with this answer and lack of explanation. If I am unable to drop her, who is responsible for the costs associated with her lifestyle? Read the rest of this entry »

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Health care premiums

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Q. My ex-husband is retiring from the post office and right now he covers our 21-year-old daughter on his insurance plan. Will he still be able to keep himself and her covered with the same cost he is paying now, or will the cost be higher? Read the rest of this entry »

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Part time and health care

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Q. I have been permanent part time as a TSO with the TSA for approximately 10 years and have been enrolled in FERS and Blue Cross/Blue Shield for all of my employment. Will I be allowed to carry my health insurance into retirement when I retire at 62 or do you have to be full time? Read the rest of this entry »

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Adding husband to insurance

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Q. I work for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and I will be mandatory in 2-1/2 years. I got married in December and my husband is covered by VA. If I add my husband to my health insurance during open season in 2014, will he be able to remain when I retire in January 2016? I’m wondering because he will not have been on my insurance for five years. Read the rest of this entry »

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Health insurance after retirement

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Q. I am 53-year-old female who retired on disability from USPS in 2007. My husband still works at USPS, and I am on his Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance. We are divorcing, and I need my health insurance due to my disability. I need to know if I am eligible for insurance through the USPS since I am a former employee under FERS. Any info will be helpful. Read the rest of this entry »

Health care coverage

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Q. I am a federal employee, 66 years old, planning to retire Jan. 3. I now have full coverage under Blue Cross Blue Shield for me and my husband. I understand that when I retire, I must sign up for Medicare Part A, but I am not sure about part B. If I elect to take Medicare Part B, and have BCBS as my supplement, may I still purchase my prescriptions through CVS Care Mark after I retire? Can you tell me the monthly cost for my spouse and myself to continue with full coverage under BCBS? Read the rest of this entry »

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Retirement coverage

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Q. I plan to retire in approximately a year at age 55. I have been covered by my wife’s insurance and we thought that I could stop coverage with my wife in the next open enrollment and go on FEP, but they told me in my office that I had to have five years on FEP before I could have coverage upon retirement. Is this true? Why wasn’t this ever brought to my attention? Do I have any options? Read the rest of this entry »

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Benefits after retiring from active employment

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Q. When you stop working and start receiving pension benefits I know Federal taxes can be withheld, but I am not sure if Medicare and Social Security are still deducted. Are they?  Read the rest of this entry »

FEHB program coverage

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Q. I was a Miltec for the army and I took a postponed retirement in 2008. Up to that point I had medical coverage under the FEHB program for five years. I have reentered Miltec status and have medical coverage, but will retire before I have five years of medical coverage for this period of service. Will I still have medical coverage after retirement or will I lose it because I didn’t have medical coverage for this period of service for 5 consecutive years? Read the rest of this entry »

Retirement and financial penalties

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Q. I’m a DoD employee, age 52 3/4 years with 28 1/4 years of service. My goal
is to retire when I reach 30 years of service, but I’ll still be almost two
years short of my MRA, and therein lies the rub. I’ve done a fair bit of
research, but try as I might, I cannot find an avenue for retirement before my
56th birthday that does not entail major curtailments in my benefit. If I
retire at 30 years of service, I’m hit with a 40 percent (5 percent times number of years
until 62) reduction in my annuity. I won’t be eligible for a postponed
retirement and a deferred retirement means the loss of my Federal Healthcare
Benefit and that is just not acceptable to me.
It appears that early retirement, even a few years shy of MRA, is
disincentivized to the point that most employees that did not have a medical
condition or some other life-changing event would be crazy or desperate to
retire before MRA.
Is there a way I can retire at any time between now and my 56th birthday
that does not entail major financial penalties (say 10 percent for the sake of
argument) and/or the loss of healthcare coverage?

Read the rest of this entry »

FEHB and surviving spouse

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Q. Where do I find specific details for the exception to let my surviving spouse continue in FEHB if I do not chose a partial or full survivor annuity? Or is there such an exception? In a 2013 Pre-Retirement Planning class manual dealing with Current Spouse Survivorship, it states surviving spouses who do not receive a survivor annuity cannot continue FEHB. It also states there is an exception for spouses married 30 years or more. I am retired Navy O-5 using both FEHB and Tricare Prime, married 37 years, and trying to decide what to do about health insurance when I retire after 10 years of FERS as a GS-14. I’m sure my FERS annuity will be large enough to warrant paying for the survivor annuity. Yet I am growing nervous about all the DOD proposed changes to Tricare. Read the rest of this entry »

Health insurance options for retirees

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Q. I recently read your comment regarding Medicare part A and Blue Cross coverage being sufficient for most retirees (according to NARFE). In your opinion, would Medicare parts A and B be sufficient for most retirees without Blue Cross coverage? It appears to me that route would be cheaper, but would the coverage be as good? Also, have there been any developments concerning self-plus-one rates for any of the health insurance policies offered to employees or retirees?

A. Only you can determine if the coverage would be as good for you. As for the self-plus-one option, OPM has postponed implementing it until next year.

Switching family health coverage

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Q. I am a retired USPS employee. Presently, I am enrolled with BCBS with self and family option. My wife wants to get Medicare Part B and cease to be enrolled with my FEHBP. Can my wife re-enroll with my plan if she decides to do so later on? Read the rest of this entry »

Tricare and FEHB benefits

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Q. I retired from the Army in 2011 and have been working as a contractor since then. I have just accepted a GS position. I have Tricare (retired) now. Does my new position have the option of Tricare or is that just a military thing? If not, then should I ditch the Tricare for the FEHB? Any advantages/disadvantages either way? Read the rest of this entry »

Suspending FEHB in retirement

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Q. Can you suspend FEHB after retirement if you are eligible for Tricare? Can you elect to go back on FEHB if desired? How would you do this? Read the rest of this entry »

FERS MRA+10 and heath coverage

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Q. If my wife chose to retire now, at her minimum retirement age of 56 with 13 years of FERS service, would she be able to postpone her annuity until age 60?  She currently carries FEHB (self), as long as she has had it the last five years, can I pick her up under my FEHB (self+1 or family) once she retires and then when she becomes 60 she can reinstate her own self-plan at that point? Read the rest of this entry »

MRA health benefits

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Q. I am a reinstated federal employee with the Bureau of Prisons who is 59 years old and has 15 years of service time. I want to retire under the minimum retirement age and understand there is a five percent penalty for every year under the age of 62. But, am I able to keep my federal health insurance until I reach age 65?
Read the rest of this entry »

Leaving federal service

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Q. I am a federal employee (FERS employee from January 1988 to the present) who will likely be leaving federal employment for a private sector position in a different city. What happens to the following:
1. Can I either leave my money in the TSP account or roll it over; in any case, I am not touching the balance until I retire.
2. Am I correct that my retirement annuity freezes until I actually retire and that it would be based on the following calculation — years of service (.26) x the average of the high-3 annual salary?
3. Do I get a lump sum payout for annual leave?
4. Can I get my sick leave back if I return to federal service?
5. I know health care terminates after 30 days. But am I eligible to get any Federal health care after I retire from the private sector?

Read the rest of this entry »