By Reg Jones
Q. I’m a retired federal employee (CSRS). My wife and I both have federal health insurance. My wife is still working (self-employed) and will be turning 65 this year. She went to sign up for Medicare and was told she had to also sign up for Medicare Part B or be penalized even though we have health insurance through Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
Social Security Administration said if I was still actively federally employed, she would not be required to take Part B and there would be no penalty. Another person she spoke with from SSA said she is not required to take Part B and there would be no penalty since we have health insurance.
What is correct?
Also, when I turn 65 will I be required to sign up for Part B?
Q. My wife is 65 and is retiring under FERS from federal service at age 66 (in one month). I resigned under FERS two years and three months ago while not old enough for Medicare but was self-employed for the past two years, now employed by a nongovernment contractor.
I had Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage separate from my wife’s FEHB coverage while employed in federal government service. My wife had her own coverage until I quit federal employment, then she started FEHB family coverage to cover both of us. She had Medicare coverage simultaneously for part of the last year because she was required to apply for Medicare benefits at age 65 and she was not sure of how to keep my coverage so we doubled up temporarily.
In a retirement seminar, my wife was told to stay with her FEHB plan when retiring because of better coverage for her extensive medical needs than a Medicare plan would give. Will I be covered as a spouse under her plan while my wife is retiring and be covered into her retirement without being dropped? I have had continual FEHB coverage for over 20 years, including the past two years in the family plan and the previous 20 in a single plan.
Q. I have been employed with the Postal Service for 26 years. I am 64 years old and am eligible for retirement. I would like to work for another year. I have some health issues. If I should die while I am still working, would I lose all that I have paid in to my retirement, or would my wife get my retirement benefits? If so, how much? Or would she only get my life insurance benefit?
Q. My husband is a federal retiree, 69 and on Medicare and federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I begin Medicare on March 1. Will our BC/BS premium drop because it then only covers 20 percent? It’s like $500 monthly. Is it wise and cost effective to keep it, or should we look for a BC/BS supplement in Virginia?
Q. I have some questions regarding retirement under FERS:
1. They used to allow lump-sum withdrawal of your own contributions to your retirement so you could transfer to your own IRA. Is that still an option, or has that since been rescinded?
2. My wife and I are contemplating not taking survivor benefits because she will get my Thrift Savings Plan and Social Security payments. Also, I have provided enough life insurance to cover her income. The question was raised that she would then not be eligible for my Federal Employees Health Benefits for medical if I was deceased. What is the rule concerning that issue?
Q. I will retire at age 62 after 38 years of federal service. Will I need to continue my Medicare withholding until I am 65?
Q. I am considering leaving federal service. I have 13 years of service. I’m 59. No problem getting deferred annuity at 62. But I wanted to know if I can still get a health insurance option?
Q. Reading some of the questions that are being answered, there is some confusion. Some say if you retire at your minimum retirement age, you will not be able to continue health care coverage, but you must wait to retire at 60 to be able to remain in program. Other answers have been you can have your health care coverage renewed when you reach 60 when you apply for your deferred annuity. Can you clear this up? If I retire at my MRA which is 56, will my health care coverage continue?
Q. I am a FERS employee with the Postal Service with over 30 years of service, including my military time. I am considering retiring in a year. After I retire, will my health insurance premium be taxable? Or is it pretax?
Q. Are there any benefits available if one leaves federal service early — 15+ years but two years shy of their minimum retirement age?
Q. I am a 43-year-old FERS employee who just completed my 20th year in a covered law enforcement position. I understand the 25 at any age/20 at age 50+ rules. I also understand that I may transition to a nonlaw enforcement position for the next five years and retire at age 48, or simply continue working until age 48 and retire with 25 years of law enforcement. However, at this point (age 43 with 20 years), if I retire and apply for deferred benefits, will those benefits be available when I turn 50, as 50 is the minimum retirement age with my completed 20 years of LE service? If it is not age 50, what is the earliest age that I could apply for the deferred benefits? If it is later than age 50, can you please explain why? I am interested in resigning from my federal law enforcement career now that I have completed 20 years, but I want to sacrifice as few benefits as possible.
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. 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. I am a retired letter carrier. My wife has been on my Federal Employees Health Benefits since my retirement four years ago. She is enrolled in a graduate program and receives health insurance through her university. Can I drop her from my health insurance while she is covered by the university and then add her again when she graduates?
Q. I am 58 years old and plan to retire in the next few years. My husband turned 65 this year and plans to retire in the next year. We are covered under Federal Employees Health Benefits. Should my husband be taken off my medical plan to reduce my contribution? How will this affect his Medicare coverage?
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. Are there penalties for leaving/retiring 22 months before I turn 55? I am CSRS with more than 30 years. Would I have health insurance? I’m thinking I would lose 4 percent of the full retirement.
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).