Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Medicare

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Q. I am retiring next month. I am over 70. I have Blue Cross/Blue Shield. If I get Medicare parts A and B, do I still need BC/BS?

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Insurance premium and tax deduction

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Q. I am retired and collect an annuity from the government. I also pay a monthly premium for insurance. Is the premium deductible along with any other out-of-pocket costs that I can claim on my income taxes?

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Involuntary separation, health insurance and deferred retirement

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Q. I am 57 years and two months old. I am most likely going receive a sanction on my nursing license in late April or early May. I have 21 years and three months of service, including three years of military buyback time. I have carried federal health insurance since 1995. If I wait until the probable board sanction and I get terminated, will I still be able to defer retirement until age 60? Will I still be able to continue health insurance at age 60? Or would it be better to retire the day before the stated board of nursing action and avoid termination? Also, if I am terminated do I go to human resources and apply for deferred retirement, or do I do it through the Office of Personnel Management?

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FEHB premiums after retirement

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Q. I am planning my retirement. Once I retire, do I have to pick up the full amount for my health insurance, or does the government still contribute toward the premium?

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Deferred annuity and FEHB

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Q. I am 57 years and two months old. I have 21 years of federal service (FERS), including two years and 11 months of military buyback time. I am considering early retirement. I have maintained Federal Employees Health Benefits since I started 18 or so years ago. The human resources experts here are telling me that if I defer my retirement to age 60 (which I am eligible) that I can never again receive FEHB. I cannot find that statement anywhere. I have seen a local in-service slide presentation that you can defer retirement until age 60 or 62 and pick up health insurance at that time. Can you tell me what is correct in this scenario?

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Re-employment after retirement

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Q. I retired, I believe, under the MRA + 10 program, at the end of my member’s term. I have a total of 13 + years with the House of Representatives. I get a small annuity. I may have an opportunity to return to full-time service with the Department of Homeland Security. How will that affect my retirement? I assume the annuity would go away but am not sure how the health care would be handled. And I have been retired almost five years now. Will this new position accrue along with my previous 13 (since they were with the House and not GS)?

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Social Security and FEHB with FERS annuity

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Q. I will be 70 years old in October 2015. I understand if I wait to collect Social Security benefits until that time, my monthly benefit will approximate $3,030. As of August 2010, I started working for the federal government as a GS-13. I plan on retiring under FERS in September 2015, at which time I will have completed 60 months of continuous civilian service. I understand that my monthly FERS annuity will approximate $500. Is there any offset to either Social Security or FERS monthly annuity benefits based on receiving both of these benefits simultaneously?

Assuming continuation of excellent health, I will likely also have additional income at that time. Should I anticipate restrictions on the amount of active or passive additional income that I can earn or any offset to either social security or FERS annuity?

A second question involves health benefits after retirement. I understand that after completing 60 months of civilian service, I can retain current Blue Cross/Blue Shield health benefits with the exception that I must pay both the employee and employer premiums myself. The real benefit is having access to this coverage under group rate available to the government.

Where would I look to find comparative benefit information for Blue Cross/Blue Shield after retirement with those typical benefits through Medicare and those benefits through the Affordable Care Act?

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Deferred/postponed annuity

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Q. Do I have any options for early retirement that will allow me to keep Federal Employees Health Benefits if I retire at age 52-55 with 20-23 years of service with a minimum retirement age of 57? I know I can take postponed, but then I lose FEHB. So I was wondering if there was any other way.

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Dependents

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Q. I am enrolled in Blue Cross/Blue Shield under the federal employee program. I’m also approaching 65. I have two children under age 18. Will Medicare be primary for them also?

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Switching health insurance coverage

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Q. I recently changed my coverage in Federal Employees Health Benefits (Aetna) and found that the total coverage eliminated my retirement annuity, except for $19. Is there a way to change that back to my original health insurance coverage?

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Medicare Part D

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Q. When I sign up for Medicare at the qualifying age of 65, am I required to get a Part D (prescription drugs) insurance plan since federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield has a prescription coverage included in it?

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Health care premiums

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Q. Where do you find the cost of health care premiums for Blue Cross federal for a rural carrier under FERS?

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Medicare

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Q. Does my wife have to sign up for Medicare? If so, when does she have to sign up? And, if my wife does not sign up for Medicare, will she incur any penalty?

Scenario: I am a working FERS employee, my wife still works and she is not a government employee. I have self-and-family Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage. I am not yet age 65. My wife will turn 65 this year.

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Disabled dependent and health insurance in retirement

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Q. I have a disabled adult daughter living with my husband and me. By the time I am able to retire in eight years, I will meet criteria of having 20 years of federal Service and age 62+. My daughter and husband will have been on my health insurance, vision, and dental insurances by then for more than 10 years. I know my husband can continue on my insurance when I retire. Can my daughter also?

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Suspending FEHB

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Q. I retired from a federal agency in 2005 and have maintained my Federal Employees Health Benefits plan into retirement. I accepted employment at the county level where I live. They offer an excellent benefit package, including an attractive health plan. I’m thinking about working there for a few years, and I’m trying to find out what options are available to me as far as choosing which medical insurance to go with.

I recently heard about suspending my FEHB plan so I can reactivate it at a later date. If this is possible, I can take advantage of the county’s health benefits package while employed there, then re-enroll in my FEHB plan when I leave them in the future. While this sounds great, I am having trouble trying to find out all the details I should know about suspending my FEHB plan before I jump in. Can you help?

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Retirement or resignation?

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Q. I have reached my MRA+10, and I am considering retiring. Since I am 60, I would like to postpone receipt of my annuity until 62 to avoid the age reduction. I have been told by my servicing HR department, which is not in my agency, that I must resign my position.

I have read the FERS handbook and noted that it recommends one not resign since it could affect survivor benefits should I die before applying for the annuity. Also, I read that the HR department must fill out the SF 3100 and add a remark “Appears to be eligible for immediate MRA+10 retirement annuity.” Also, a remark should be added to indicate if the employee appears to be eligible to continue Federal Employees Health Benefits and Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance coverage.

I would like to pick up my FEGLI when I begin my annuity at 62. My husband is a federal employee and pays for my FEHB and LTC insurance. The HR department seems unwilling to assist me and is just telling me to resign and submit the RI 92-19 60 days before the date I choose to receive the annuity. What is the correct way to separate from federal service in this instance? If it is retirement and not resignation, how does one separate without resigning? Do you have any suggestions on how to get the HR department to assist?

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Deferred annuity

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Q. I am a 60 percent disabled veteran, so I earn a disability income. When I started work at the Postal Service, I bought my military time back so it would count toward retirement, so my service date is Sept. 1, 2001 (actually started in 2006). I am 46 years old now and I am looking to leave the USPS within three to four years. What options do I have for retirement? Could you explain deferred annuity and any other options available to me?

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Suspending FEHB

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Q. I will become Medicare qualified as of April 1. Is it possible for me to suspend my coverage? If so, are there any penalty/requirements? Is there a waiting period to get back in to the plan?

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Early retirement and spousal Social Security

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Q. My husband is 66 years old and retired last year with full Social Security benefits.  My daughter is receiving Social Security benefits until she graduates from high school at age 18. I was told that had my salary not exceeded the maximum amount allowed, I would also receive some benefits until my daughter turns 18.

I am 54 years old, a federal worker under FERS with 23 years of service. My office is going through a major reorganization. I understand that if I am offered an early retirement, I will have immediate annuities without the 5 percent reduction each year under 62), will have Federal Employees Health Benefits and have the special retirement supplement when I am at my minimum retirement age.

1. I assume that since I won’t have a job, I will be able to receive Social Security benefits until my daughter turns 18 and graduates from high school in June 2016. I will be at my MRA in January 2015. At my MRA, will I be able to continue receiving my Social Security benefits and the special retirement supplement simultaneously?

2. When I turn 62 and the special retirement supplement stops, should I apply for Social Security benefits from my husband’s retirement until I am at my full retirement age (66 and 10 months)? This way, I would have my own full Social Security retirement benefits without reduction. Am I correct?

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Applying for retirement

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Q. Do I have to be on active federal service to apply for retirement?  In other words, can I resign from my current GS job, not work and check the “retired scene” for a month or two (i.e. take a break), then apply for retirement if I so desire, but keep the option not to retire and apply instead for another job if I find not working to be boring?

And if my decision is to go ahead and retire, are there special requirements? How do I apply for retirement if/when I am not on current register?

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