Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

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 »

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 »

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 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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Deferred annuity and FEHB

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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?

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FEHB eligibility in retirement

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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?

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Early retirement and FEHB eligibility

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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?

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FEHB eligibilty

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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?

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Carrying FEHB into retirement

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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.

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FEHB eligibility

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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?

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RIF, annuity and FEHB eligibility

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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?

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Medicare eligibility

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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?

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Medicare primary?

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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?

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FEHB coverage and survivor annuity

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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?

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Eligibility for health benefits in retirement

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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?

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Vesting

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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.

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Disability retirement denial and FEHB

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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?

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Survivor annuity

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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?

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Health insurance eligibility

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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?

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Survivor annuity

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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?

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