By Reg Jones
Q. I am a federal employee under CSRS enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program with self-and-family coverage for myself, my wife and my daughter (under age 26). We have been covered under the FEHB program for more than five years. My wife is also a federal employee under FERS. We also have FEDVIP vision plan coverage.
I may retire next year, which will be three years or so before my wife retires. In view of the fact that as a retiree, my FEHB premiums would no longer be deducted pretax, I am considering canceling my enrollment and having my wife enroll through her federal employment, during the current open season. Then the premiums would continue to be pretax until she retires.
However, I have some concerns about making this change.
1. Would this affect either her or me in terms of the requirement to be in the FEHB program for five years before retirement to continue coverage into retirement?
2. What documentation is required to prove participation as a covered family member?
3. Would I continue to be covered if the FEHB enrollment is through her federal employment (and later retirement) in the event that she passes away before me?
4. Would this change affect our daughter’s coverage under the plan in any way?
5. Would my wife have to provide a survivor annuity benefit for me to continue FEHB coverage if she passed first?
Are there any other considerations that I should be aware of as far as you know?
Q. My husband is a retired federal employee. We both have Medicare as our primary and have Blue Cross/Blue Shield Fed standard plan as our supplemental coverage. If he dies, am I eligible to keep the BCBS Fed as my supplemental?
Q. My wife and I are covered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan, but do not have Medicare Part B. She is 77 and I am 83. Consequently, to enroll in Part B now would be cost prohibitive. We are currently enrolled in an HMO, so Part B is not a problem. If we were not in an HMO, how much would we be penalized if we were in a service benefit plan without Part B? For example, if we were in Blue Cross Standard, what additional costs would we incur without Part B?
Q. My girlfriend and I have been living together for a number of years. She is covered by her own insurance at her work, and I am retired and covered under Federal Employees Health Benefits self only. When she retires, she will be uninsured until she is eligible for Medicare. Is there any way for me to enroll in family coverage and have her covered?
Q. I have been a federal employee for five years as a registered nurse. I am not enrolled in Federal Employees Health Benefits. I am covered under my spouse’s medical/dental health plan because it is more affordable. We both want to be covered under FEHB when I retire due to lifetime coverage. I understand I need to be continuously enrolled in FEHB for five years before retiring. Do I need to enroll in dental/vision plan, as well, or just the medical health plan. In addition, can I just choose self only?
Q. I retired from the Postal Service in 2006. I will turn 65 in April. If I understand this correctly, my employer health insurance becomes my secondary insurance and Medicare becomes my primary. Why would my premiums stay the same for an insurance that’s providing me less coverage? Also, what parts (A, B, C, D) are advisable to sign up for with Medicare?
Q. I am a Postal Service employee under FERS. I am covered under a Federal Employees Health Benefits self-only plan. My wife works in the private sector and carries her own self-only coverage. I plan to retire in six years, and I know I need to be insured for five years prior. My wife cannot carry her insurance into her retirement. Do I need to carry her on my policy for five years before I retire or can I add her nearer to my retirement date?
Q. We have Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage. My husband hopes to retire within five years, and we are thinking of adding dental coverage during this open season. He understands that any change in coverage will jeopardize our carrying health coverage into retirement. Please explain how changes in coverage affect coverage in retirement.
Q. My husband recently retired under FERS. He has the Federal Employees Health Benefits family plan. I am still working and will be for at least another 10 years under FERS. If I pick up the FEHB in open season, will he be able to switch back to FEHB once the kids reach 26 and are off our health plan, so both of us could pick up single coverage (if it’s cost advantageous at that time)? Will the switch in primary recipient be considered a cancellation on his part so that he can’t re-enroll in the future, or will my husband be able to pick up self-only when the time comes?
Q. My husband and I are employed with different federal agencies. He is with the Veterans Affairs Department, and I am with the Defense Department. He has covered me under a family plan for the past 10 years. We are both preparing for retirement next year. Our daughter turned 27 this year and is no longer eligible for coverage under the family plan. So it is cheaper for each of us to elect our own self insurance plans, rather than for him to continue the family plan. If I elect a self plan this open season, and then retire next year, how will the Office of Personnel Management know that I have been covered under Federal Employees Health Benefits for the required five years? I don’t want to be stuck without coverage eligibility after I retire.
Q. I retired in 2006 from the Small Business Administration and have always had the Blue Cross/Blue Shield family plan. I carried this family plan into retirement.
My wife is also a federal employee and plans to retire in 2014. She is covered under my plan — that is, she never had an individual plan of her own.
I noticed that there is a $60-per-month difference between the family plan and two individual plans. Since my wife has been covered under my plan for more than five years, can she sign up for an individual plan during this open season and carry it into her retirement? (I would switch from a family plan to my own individual plan.)
Q. I retired from the Postal Service at age 70. I did not sign up for Medicare Part B at 65. I carried my Federal Employees Health Benefits plan into retirement. I understood that as long as I kept my insurance, I would not be penalized if I decided to sign up at a later time. That was two years ago. I am considering an Advantage plan and have been told by Social Security that I will be penalized for each 12-month period since I turned 65, even though I continued to work until 70. I retired Oct. 1, 2011.
Q. I’m 52 and have almost 34 years of federal service under CSRS. If I were to resign, would my retirement start at age 60? Would health insurance start, as well, at age 60?
Q. I am a retired disabled military member who works in the federal government. Since I am retired, I did not opt for any of the Federal Employees Health Benefits, as I am covered through Tricare as well as the Veterans Affairs Department. So, why is it that I must pay into Medicare when I am presently covered by another form of medical coverage? What can I do to stop this $2,247.18 annual deduction? Since I am covered as a vet under VA, I don’t need additional medical coverage. This is not right. How do I get my money back?
I’ve been paying into this since 2005 as a federal employee, having spent the previous 20 in the military. Since retiring eight years ago, I have been receiving Medicare care as a disabled vet through VA, and my family is covered through Tricare, which I pay monthly through payroll deduction. So where is my $2,247.18 going every year? What is the government doing with my earnings? Are there any provisions to cease this from happening?
November 20th, 2013 | annuity reduction Coverage after retirement Creditable service: CSRS CSRS annuity computation EMPLOYMENT HEALTH INSURANCE Military service deposits PAY Postal Service RETIREMENT self and family SOCIAL SECURITY spouse benefits
Q. I have 31 years with the Postal Service, four years military. Started with USPS in March 1982. Also a disabled vet.
I am confused with the payback issue regarding my military service from 1974 to 1978. I opted not to pay back and, according to everything I am reading, if I do not qualify for Social Security at 62, there will not be a deduction in annual annuity.
However, I note that in the CSRS and FERS Handbook, it states the following:
“If nondeduction service was performed before Oct. 1, 1982, and deposit is not made, the basic annual annuity is reduced by 10 percent of deposit plus interest owed.”
I do not have enough credits to qualify for Social Security, thus I’m not sure if this applies to me.
Also, I would like to use the Veterans Affairs Department when I retire. However, I am not sure how to provide health insurance to my spouse. Should I keep my present insurance that covers her, or are there other options?
Q. I am more than 58 years old and voluntarily resigning from my position with the Veterans Affairs Department. I have 20 years of creditable FERS service and plan to postpone the start of my annuity and my retirement until my 60th birthday. I plan to submit the Form 92-19 two months prior to my 60th birthday, which will be in October 2014. In the interim, I will be obtaining my health insurance through my spouse, but I have plans to regain our family health/life insurance (held less than five years) at the same time I start my annuity, which will be without age reduction because I have 20 years and will be 60 at that time. I am confused about my eligibility for the special retirement supplement between age 60 and 62. I do not think it will be retirement at MRA +10 at that time, but I may be wrong. Please explain what category my postponed annuity/retirement situation falls under.
Q. My wife and I both work for the Veterans Affairs Department. She has been covered under my self-and-family policy of Blue Cross/Blue Shield for the past 23 years. She will turn 65 this December. I am 59. Is she required to use Medicare for her primary insurer at age 65, or can she continue to use BC/BS as her primary insurer? We are satisfied with BC/BS, and all of our doctors take this easily. Is there a difference between use of Part A (hospitalization) versus Part B? If she chooses not to take Part B at this time, can she use BC/BS for office visits? Can she sign up for Part B later?
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 have selected a retirement date of June 28, 2014. I will be 59½ years old with 33½ years of government service. I have been FERS my whole career. If I were to marry after retirement, what is the policy for covering my future spouse on my Federal Employees Health Benefits? If I choose to want a survivor benefit for my future spouse, is it possible to change from a self-only pension to one with survivor benefits?
Q. I’m a permanent Department of the Army civilian employee under FERS. I was hired July 27, 2009, as a temporary term employee and converted to permanent status Feb. 14, 2010. I’ve had full benefits from the start of my employment, except for medical, which I started in January 2010. All of my benefits have continued without interruption (I think I had either two or three days leave without pay while on term).
I have two years and seven months of military service from the 1960s. I’ve been looking into buying back my service time, but since I don’t have the buyback numbers yet, I haven’t made a decision one way or the other.
I’m 66 years old. What would be the earliest date I could retire maintaining my pension benefits and medical insurance (vesting)?