Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

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?

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Retirement and health benefits

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Q. If I retire at age 60 with 25 years of federal service, how will it affect my federal medical health benefits? Will I still be eligible for benefits to continue under the FEHB and will my benefit costs remain the same amount as if was working? Read the rest of this entry »

Affordable health insurance options for USPS

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Q. I’m considering an early retirement from USPS. I currently have health insurance that costs me approximately $370 per month. It looks to me like I can actually get comparable coverage through the Obamacare site for less than my contribution to my current health insurance plan based on my projected income after retirement.
Would I be eligible to receive the discounted health plan from the new government program? I know that I’m not eligible to participate now as an employee of USPS because my employer provides health coverage. After retirement, I can continue to receive health benefits through USPS but the cost is much higher than the new health insurance plans. Does the fact that I could continue my existing health plan disqualify me from Obamacare? Read the rest of this entry »

Benefits to Medicare Parts A & B

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Q. My wife works for the VA. I am covered under her BC/BS federal health insurance. I turn 65 in 30 days. Do I need to sign up for Medicare Parts A & B? If I need to sign up and if I use BC/BS plus medicare, are there any advantages? Read the rest of this entry »

Leaving federal service

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Q. I plan on leaving federal service with the VA after 15 years of employment, having worked various jobs at GS-7 and GS-5 levels. I will be 48 years old upon my voluntary leave. Can I collect my VA pension immediately or do I have to wait till I reach a certain age to collect a monthly pension? And if I can collect my VA pension now, can I continue to pay for health insurance via monthly deduction from the pension amount? Read the rest of this entry »

Removing a spouse from family coverage

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Q. I presently have self-and-family health insurance through Blue Cross-Blue Shield. I will retain family coverage for the children but want to drop my wife from coverage. Can I legally do this? She is eligible for Medicare due to disability. I am not retired.

A. No, you can’t. There are only two enrollment categories in the FEHB program: self and self-and-family. You are enrolled in the latter, which means that all your eligible family members are included.

Surviors benefits and continued health insurance

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Q. I am currently enrolled in an insurance program that will pay out excellent benefits should I die before my spouse. I am getting ready to retire under CSRS Offset. How much of a reduced survivor benefit do I need to take to ensure my wife maintains her health benefits? Read the rest of this entry »

Medicare Part A and Part B

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Q. I will turn 65 in July of this year. I’m retired through the CSRS. Should I enroll in Medicare Parts A and B? I’m enrolled in Blue Cross Blue Shield in the federal health insurance program and plan on keeping my insurance. If I take Parts A and B, how much would they cost?
Read the rest of this entry »