Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

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?
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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?
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CSRS service and Medicare Part A fees

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Q. I have been CSRS with no broken service since 1978. I worked a few part time jobs when I was young, so I have only a few quarters of Social Security. When I turn 65 in a few years, I want to sign up for Medicare Part A and B. I know I will have to pay for Part B, but will my 36 years of CSRS be enough for me to get free Medicare Part A? Read the rest of this entry »

FEHB re-enrollment after disability

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Q. I have been approved for Federal Retirement Disability after having applied for it almost 15 months ago. I am receiving interim payments. I was separated from my federal position before I applied and could not afford to pay for COBRA benefits during the time I waited to be approved. When could I anticipate receiving my health insurance benefits back? How will they calculate my portion of the health insurance premium? Read the rest of this entry »

FEHB provider and premiums wrong

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Q. I retired from the U.S. post office in January. I changed my FEHB provider during the 2013 open season, but according to the retirement booklet that OPM sent me in February and my 4/1/14 first full annuity statement, it still shows me as having my old coverage. Will (or should) they automatically correct this? I called OPM about this mistake and was told that it is my responsibility to correct this error by submitting proof of switching providers? Is this correct? Read the rest of this entry »

FERS retirement

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Q. This is a two part question. I’m a FERS employee with a minimum retirement age of 56 1/2.
I would like to retire at my MRA if possible but want to make sure I understand the penalties and rules. First, I will be about 1 1/2 years short of 30 years with the government at age 56 1/2. It’s my understanding that I can still retire at that age but can postpone receiving an annuity to avoid the 5 percent per year penalty if I don’t take benefits until age 60. Is this correct?

Second, if I decide to postpone taking the annuity until age 60, I won’t be eligible to receive health care benefits until that time. I would need to find alternative health care during that gap between age 56 1/2 and 60. But would I be able to re-enroll again at age 60 with no issues?
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Medicare deductions from annuities

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Q. Will Medicare continue to be deducted until an employee is age 65, or do deductions stop once they retire (at age 59 or 60)? Read the rest of this entry »

FEHB and deferred retirement

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Q. I started work in an letter of authorization appointment in June 2004. In January 2005, I was hired under a TERM contract not-to-exceed four years. I completed that term and a second one. At the end of that period, my only option to continue was to return to an L/A appointment. Because I was coming from a position with benefits (FEHB and FERS), I was able to keep them in the L/A appointment. The L/A appointment rules are changing (all the time, it seems), and at this point I don’t know if my L/A appointment can be renewed.

Though I’ve never been a permanent federal employee, at the end of this appointment, I will have nine years, and one and a half months of full time FERS, plus 10 months at 3/8 time. I will be 52.

I understand that as a general rule FEHB benefits cannot be picked up in the case of a deferred retirement, but I’m wondering if there is an exception because neither myself nor my employer are wanting me to stop working, there just isn’t a way to keep me working. (Well, there is a possibility I could work under a service contract act but would not have federal benefits.) Read the rest of this entry »

FEHB health benefits

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Q. I worked for the federal government for 18 years under the FERS plan. I was enrolled in the FEHB program for the entire length of my employment. I resigned in my 40s. I am now 57 and have been rehired as a government employee, and I have enrolled in the FEHB program once again. I am past my minimum retirement age at this point. If I retire in the next few years, am I eligible to keep my health benefits even though I will not have worked five years since I was re-employed?
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