By Reg Jones
Q. My wife and I were both career federal employees. She left federal service a few years ago with FERS MRA+10. She postponed retirement until now to avoid the penalty.
Just before leaving service, I changed my Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage from self only to self and family to cover her. She then terminated her coverage (had been covered more than five years continuously prior to that).
When she starts retirement, she can enroll in FEHB self-only coverage. Can I also change my coverage to self-only at that time? Is her eligibility to continue FEHB coverage a qualifying life event for me to change from self and family to self only?
Q. My husband has a rare syndrome, and his prognosis is only a couple years. He cannot be left alone during the day, and I cannot afford to pay someone to stay with him all day. I am age 50, and a GG-13 Step 7 with 15 years of government service (four years of active-duty time is included in this). Can I retire now (I am under FERS) and still keep my health insurance? What would I receive in pension, and what would be the cost of keeping my health insurance as I cannot afford to lose it due to all of his medical appointments?
Q. I’m age 50 with 25 years of non-Postal service under FERS. If I have a medical condition that qualifies me for disability retirement, will I still be covered under FEHB after retiring on disability? I would only pay my portion of the premium as if I am still employed, correct? I have been enrolled in Federal Employees Health Benefits my entire career.
And would I still receive the special retirement supplement when I hit my minimum retirement age of 56, even though I am retired on disability?
Q. I have 22 years in federal service under FERS and am 56 years old. I have held Tricare Prime under my retired spouse for over five years and Blue Cross/Blue Shield under my position for four years. If I take early retirement, can I carry my insurance into retirement? Do I meet the conditions to receive the special retirement supplement until I reach age 62? If not, under what conditions could I receive the special retirement supplement that would carry until I reach my Social Security age?
Q. I retired a few years ago with a pension and with Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage. Turned 65 a year ago. Have not applied for Social Security, as the benefit will be less than $200 per month.
All sources tell me that when I apply for Social Security, Medicare Part A will be mandatory, even though all our working careers, they said we can just have FEHB for retirement. I do not want Part A and wish to remain with FEHB only. Also with all of the mixups, I am sure they will put me into Part B, as well (even though I do not want or need).
December 5th, 2013 | annuity reduction Coverage after retirement discontinued service retirement EMPLOYMENT FEHBP HEALTH INSURANCE MRA + 10 PAY Postal Service Postponed retirement Re-enrollment RETIREMENT Special retirement supplement
Q. I have been told by the Office of Personnel Management that if I postpone my retirement until age 60, I would be penalized for every year I am under 62 and will not be eligible for the special retirement supplement.
I am 59½ with more than 28 years in the Postal Service. Our facility is consolidating, and our jobs are at stake. I am a clerk and do not want a carrier position because of my health. I plan on retiring in February to reach my 60th birthday. If I don’t accept a carrier position, can I:
1. Take an involuntary discontinued retirement; or
2. Retire and postpone my annuity until 60
I want to receive the special retirement supplement and no penalty on annuity.
Q. When I reach age 56, I will have 20 years of federal employment. I realize I can retire at MRA + 10 with a reduced benefit of 30 percent. Can I defer or postpone my retirement to age 60, qualify under the 60/20 and not take a reduced benefit? Also, how does this affect my health benefits? Do I purchase my own health insurance and then re-enroll when I apply for my annuity?
Q. I have 12 years of full-time employment and am MRA +10. Instead of retiring outright, I was thinking of going to half-time for a year or two. I understand my share of health insurance premiums will go up dramatically while I am employed part-time, but what will happen when I finally retire? Will my share go back to the full-time amount, or will I continue to pay the extra half? This is a major part of my decision to stay on because my pension would barely cover the increased amount.
Q. At age 65, I sign up for Medicare Part A because it is free and I keep my Federal Employees Health Benefits but decline Medicare Part B. Does that mean my FEHB will pay out benefits as usual as if employed, or will FEHB pay benefits as if I had Medicare Part B? If so, that means I will be paying premiums on FEHB, which provides less coverage than when I was younger and working and not eligible for Medicare.
Q. In 2007, my wife (FERS) and I (CSRS) were federal employees and both carried Standard Self Blue Cross/Blue Shield coverage.
I retired in late 2007 and carried my Standard Self BC/BS coverage into retirement.
In early 2010, my wife dropped her Standard Self BC/BS coverage, and I added her to my coverage that I changed to Standard Family BC/BS.
For economic reasons, we are now thinking of both going back to Standard Self BC/BS and cannot remember why we switched to self and family in the first place. Is there a difference or advantage of one over the other in coverage?
Also, my wife will retire in late 2014, and we don’t want to make the change to self if it will prevent her from carrying her health coverage into retirement.
Can you think of any advantage of having Standard Family BC/BS coverage instead of each one of us returning to Standard Self BC/BS coverage?
Q. I’m currently (last 10 years) enrolled in the Blue Cross Standard family plan #105, for my wife and myself. Once I turn 65 and enroll in Medicare, would I continue with the same plan or enroll in a lesser plan such as the Blue Cross Basic family plan #112 to save money? One would think that with Medicare kicking in at age 65, which subsidizes medical cost, the supplemental Blue Cross plan would cost less. Does that sound right?
Q. I am covered as a retiree from the Postal Service under a Federal Employees Health Benefits plan. I am also covered on a plan under my name from my late husband’s employer, from which he retired. The rules for coordination of benefits state that if you are covered under two plans in your name, the plan that you had longer would be primary. Since I retired in July, my FEHB plan changed in that it is no longer paid with pretax dollars; it is paid monthly and the premium is not the postal rate but the rate other federal workers and retirees pay. To me, this is not the same plan I had, and I am thinking the other plan would now be primary since I have had that plan for over two years. Also, over the years, I sometimes only had insurance through my husband, sometimes had both and sometimes just had FEHB. Can I safely say that because of the changes in July that the other insurance is now primary?
Q. I am a federal employee with federal health insurance but no vision or dental insurance. I’m covered under my husband’s nonfederal vision and dental. He plans to retire in 2014. At that time, I plan to add him to my health insurance, which I have had for over five years. Can I wait to elect the federal vision and dental insurance at that time, or must I elect them during the current open season to avoid loss of coverage if my husband retires before the next open season?
Q. I was a federal law enforcement officer who retired this year under CSRS. My wife is a federal employee who will work six or seven more years. We have Blue Cross/Blue Shield-Fed as our health plan. The premiums have always been paid out of my salary. Would it be most beneficial for us to have the health coverage premiums made from my annuity or from my spouse’s salary. Would there be any negatives to having those premiums made from my spouse’s salary?
Q. I am 50 years old and have worked for the Department of the Navy for 25 years under FERS. The last five years of my career has been part time (20 hours per week). My wife has also worked for the Navy for 12 years (full time under FERS) and provides our Federal Employee Health Benefits family plan coverage. I have been covered by an FEHB plan consecutively for over 25 years. If I were offered early retirement, could I pick up the FEHB family plan coverage and carry it into retirement with me? If not, why not?
Q. I was required to retire from a federal law enforcement position in 2011 after 22 years (GS-13, step 10) due to reaching the maximum age. I may have an opportunity to work with another agency in a permanent position at the GS-12 level. What are the ramifications on my retirement and health benefits? Also, what if this were a re-employed annuitant position?
Q. My husband is a federal civil servant and planning to retire in a couple of years. His insurance carrier is the mail handlers benefit plan, enrolled as family plan.
When he retires at age 65½, I understand that Medicaid will take over as his primary health plan. What will happen to the mail handlers benefit plan we’ve been carrying for the past 30 years? Do we have to change it to the supplement B or whatever covers what’s not paid by Medicaid? Or will the mail handlers benefit plan pick up the balance, prescription, etc.?
Q. I am retiring under FERS and continuing health insurance coverage. Why do I need Medicare Part B or D? Doesn’t my health insurance provide these benefits? Why would I want both?
Q. I am a 51-year-old Defense Department employee with 13 years of continuous service under FERS and considering leaving federal service and working in the private sector. Since my minimum retirement age is 56, I am ineligible for the MRA+10 retirement option at this time. If I return to federal service at age 56 or later, is there a minimum duration that I would be required to work before I can retire under MRA+10? I have been continuously enrolled in Federal Employees Health Benefits for the past 13 years and would re-enroll immediately upon returning to federal service. I would also leave my FERS and TSP retirement untouched.
Q. I’m looking to retire within the next year after turning 60. My wife and I are in excellent physical condition with no medical conditions. I’m the only one who works in the federal workforce. Once I turn 65, should I consider enrolling in Medicare or just stay with my Federal Employees Health Benefits (currently with Blue Cross/Blue Shield)?