By Reg Jones
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. When I reach age 56, I will have 20 years of federal employment. I realize I can retire at MRA + 10 with a reduced benefit of 30 percent. Can I defer or postpone my retirement to age 60, qualify under the 60/20 and not take a reduced benefit? Also, how does this affect my health benefits? Do I purchase my own health insurance and then re-enroll when I apply for my annuity?
Q. I am looking at retiring in September 2014 at age 57 years and five months. I will have 34 years in FERS and a little less than a year of sick leave to convert. I have $359,000 in my Thrift Savings Plan account. I am single, never married. What are my best options? I am located in an isolated area and am unable to attend any retirement seminars, especially now with the budget issues.
Q. I have 12 years of full-time employment and am MRA +10. Instead of retiring outright, I was thinking of going to half-time for a year or two. I understand my share of health insurance premiums will go up dramatically while I am employed part-time, but what will happen when I finally retire? Will my share go back to the full-time amount, or will I continue to pay the extra half? This is a major part of my decision to stay on because my pension would barely cover the increased amount.
Q. At age 65, I sign up for Medicare Part A because it is free and I keep my Federal Employees Health Benefits but decline Medicare Part B. Does that mean my FEHB will pay out benefits as usual as if employed, or will FEHB pay benefits as if I had Medicare Part B? If so, that means I will be paying premiums on FEHB, which provides less coverage than when I was younger and working and not eligible for Medicare.
Q. I’m currently (last 10 years) enrolled in the Blue Cross Standard family plan #105, for my wife and myself. Once I turn 65 and enroll in Medicare, would I continue with the same plan or enroll in a lesser plan such as the Blue Cross Basic family plan #112 to save money? One would think that with Medicare kicking in at age 65, which subsidizes medical cost, the supplemental Blue Cross plan would cost less. Does that sound right?
Q. I am covered as a retiree from the Postal Service under a Federal Employees Health Benefits plan. I am also covered on a plan under my name from my late husband’s employer, from which he retired. The rules for coordination of benefits state that if you are covered under two plans in your name, the plan that you had longer would be primary. Since I retired in July, my FEHB plan changed in that it is no longer paid with pretax dollars; it is paid monthly and the premium is not the postal rate but the rate other federal workers and retirees pay. To me, this is not the same plan I had, and I am thinking the other plan would now be primary since I have had that plan for over two years. Also, over the years, I sometimes only had insurance through my husband, sometimes had both and sometimes just had FEHB. Can I safely say that because of the changes in July that the other insurance is now primary?
Q. I was a federal law enforcement officer who retired this year under CSRS. My wife is a federal employee who will work six or seven more years. We have Blue Cross/Blue Shield-Fed as our health plan. The premiums have always been paid out of my salary. Would it be most beneficial for us to have the health coverage premiums made from my annuity or from my spouse’s salary. Would there be any negatives to having those premiums made from my spouse’s salary?
Q. I noticed on the plan for Group Health Coop, the only premiums listed are for “self only” and “self and family.” As only my wife and myself are to be covered, is there a different premium for “self plus one”? I have seen this category on other policies.
Q. I am a retired federal employee. I kept my Blue Cross/Blue Shield under the Federal Employees Health Benefits. My husband is retired Army and is covered by Tricare for Life, Medicare and my Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I am also covered under my husband’s Tricare but not Tricare for Life. Do I need to sign up for anything else when I turn 65 in January?
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 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. 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 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 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?
Q. I retired in 2003 after 32 years as an air traffic controller. I will reach age 65 in August 2014. My wife will not reach age 65 until March 2017. I am enrolled in the Blue Cross of Idaho Federal Employees Health Benefits plan. I have questions about Medicare.
1. If I sign up for Medicare, I understand it become my primary provider. Will my FEHB premiums be reduced, or will they stay the same?
2. Will my wife continue under FEHB until she reaches age 65?
3. Do you have any literature concerning the transition to Medicare from FEHB where the spouse will not be on Medicare for three years after me?
Q. I am a federal employee at Fort Drum, N.Y., with a self-and-family Federal Employees Health Benefits program enrollment. I have two daughters: one is 25 and still in college the other is 22 and works full time in a job that offers insurance. Can I keep her on my policy so she does not have to pay the high premiums?
Q. In 1997, I retired from the federal government at age 58. I will soon be 74. When I became eligible for Medicare, I chose only Plan A, since most of Plan B would have duplicated my Blue Cross/Blue Shield benefits. My wife is 59, and went on Social Security disability in 2008. She chose only Plan A of Medicare for the above stated reason. Now, I am rethinking my situation. If we were to apply for Plan B, would we be required to pay the 10 percent annual penalty for each year because we chose not to take Plan B? If so, that would make it unaffordable. Or, will my creditable coverage over those years result in a waiver of the penalty?
Q. My Illinois United Health Care of the Midwest increased by $261 per month to $742 a month. I don’t understand this, and I called them for an explanation, but no one could provide one. Isn’t this increase abnormal?