By Reg Jones
Q. I am a rural carrier under FERS. I am 58 with 22 years. If I defer my pension until 60 to keep from getting the 5 percent-per-year penalty under 62, can I still get my health insurance now?
Q. I am 59 years old with 23 years of service and six months with VISTA in 1978. My wife (56 years old, and a Washington state employee) and I are covered by Federal Employees Health Benefits. If I retire at 62 with 26 years of service, will I be eligible for FEHB coverage?
Q. I was a tenured foreign service officer. I have nine years of creditable service. I voluntarily left the Foreign Commercial Service after multiple posts. I left in August 2010 with excellent reviews and under great conditions and awards. I was 54 when I left the service to join a private company. I am now 58.
I would like to apply for retirement benefits to qualify for Federal Employees Health Benefits for myself and to gain any other benefits from the pension. Can you help me to understand what I may be eligible for and when I could apply?
Q. I was a federal employee and I paid into the federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield system for more than five years. I am on my husband’s federal BCBS program. Am I eligible to sign up for my own insurance if necessary?
Q. For the past 20+ years, I have held term appointments with several federal government commissions and boards in the D.C. area. Naturally, I have experienced several breaks in my service. Will the gaps in my employment make me ineligible for federal employee health benefits upon retirement? And, if I am considered ineligible, is there a possibility that a waiver can be obtained through the Office of Personnel Management? I was told I need to carry health insurance at least five years prior to retirement, but have not received an official answer from my human resources office about my personal situation. I am enrolled in Federal Employees Health Benefits with 30+ years of service but hoping to retire in the next year or two.
Q. My son-in-law is in his early 40s and is thinking about resigning after working full time for approximately 13 years. Is he entitled to any benefits such as health insurance, or partial retirement pay? Would the above answer in any way be altered if he continued to work part time?
Q. I am a 53-year-old federal employee with 28 years of service. If I am downsized or affected by a reduction in force, what is the age when I can collect my annuity? As importantly, I have been told by a federal certified retirement planner that because I am over 50 and have more than 25 years of service, when I become eligible to collect my annuity, I may also rejoin the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. Can you confirm that?
Q. I am a CSRS federal law enforcement retiree (age 50 with 20 years of service). Other than having paid into FICA taxes, I never paid into Social Security like present FERS employees. When I turn 65, am I eligible for both Medicare parts A and B? If not, how do you suggest I proceed to supplement my coverage?
Q. I am a Defense Department employee in CSRS. I am 57 and have 37-plus years of service. I can retire tomorrow with an annuity. I have been enrolled in a Federal Employees Health Benefits plan for the past five consecutive years (MHBP). I was just making an inquiry about Medicare, and my health plan provider representative told that after I retire and become eligible for Medicare at age 65, Medicare becomes my primary and my current health plan becomes secondary coverage (as far as payment is concerned). Is this true?
Q. I will be a FERS retiree with more than 30 years and my spouse will also be eligible for a deferred FERS retirement but will probably wait seven years until he’s 62. He left federal employment more than 10 years ago, and I have always carried him on my Federal Employees Health Benefits family plan. I understand he will be covered by my FEHB family plan after I retire as long as I’m living. If I don’t select a survivor annuity for him, will he be eligible to get his own FEHB plan if I die before him?
Q. I am a new federal employee (start date in June) and was born in 1963. When would I be able to leave the federal government and retain federal health care benefits?
Q. How many years of federal employment does one need to be eligible for retiree health insurance? Do employees becomes “vested” in health insurance after a certain number of years? I thought I needed to be working for 10 years with the feds to be eligible for retiree health insurance, but now I am not so sure.
Q. I am a 59-year-old FERS employee with 16 years of service and I have been enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan for the past 10 years. I am being removed for medical inability immediately and will have a disability retirement application pending with the Office of Personnel Management. I’d rather not pay the COBRA rate for health insurance while my application is pending (six-month processing time). However, if I am denied disability, do I lose forever my ability to continue under my federal health insurance as I would have had I retired under MRA+10?
Q. If my spouse waives the survivor benefit at the time of my retirement (currently 30 years as an 1811 employee), will she still be eligible for Federal Employees Health Benefits before and after I die if she survives me? Also, will my children under age 26 still be covered by FEHB after I retire, as long as I am still enrolled?
Q. I am 55 and was recently hired as a DoDEA teacher. How many years do I need to work to be eligible to keep all of my insurance benefits?
Q. Do federal retirees have to elect for spousal annuity benefits for spouses to be eligible for Federal Employees Health Benefits upon retirement? If so, can the retiree elect to discontinue spousal annuity if the spouse obtains his/her own coverage after retirement? Does it vary between CSRS and FERS?
Q. I enlisted in the Air Force in 1948 and served until March 1958, then went into federal service under CSRS. I retired in 1986 with 37 years and 10 months of combined service. As a result, I only acquired five quarters of Social Security payments. I am therefore not eligible for Social Security benefits or Medicare. Will I be able to keep my Federal Employees Health Benefits when the Affordable Care Act is activated?
Q. What happens to federal employees with Federal Employees Health Benefits when the Affordable Care Act takes effect? Does FEHB go away? Do federal employees have to go to exchanges and find new insurers just as every other American? What happens to retirees with FEHBP? Do their FEHBP plans go away, and do they have to go to exchanges?
Q. My husband retired from the federal government 10 years ago. He has had health insurance through my company for the past 23 years. I have lost my job through a reduction in force and now need to explore options for health care. Do we have any options through his retirement benefits? He is 64, I am 55 and we have two children living at home, 24 and 21.
Q. I am a full-time FERS employee with family health insurance coverage. I’ve been told, but can’t substantiate, that if a child was active military and was honorably discharged after his four-year service term, that this child would be eligible for coverage under my family coverage until he turns 30. Is this accurate?