By Reg Jones
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. 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. 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.
December 5th, 2013 | annuity reduction Coverage after retirement discontinued service retirement EMPLOYMENT FEHBP HEALTH INSURANCE MRA + 10 PAY Postal Service Postponed retirement Re-enrollment RETIREMENT Special retirement supplement
Q. I have been told by the Office of Personnel Management that if I postpone my retirement until age 60, I would be penalized for every year I am under 62 and will not be eligible for the special retirement supplement.
I am 59½ with more than 28 years in the Postal Service. Our facility is consolidating, and our jobs are at stake. I am a clerk and do not want a carrier position because of my health. I plan on retiring in February to reach my 60th birthday. If I don’t accept a carrier position, can I:
1. Take an involuntary discontinued retirement; or
2. Retire and postpone my annuity until 60
I want to receive the special retirement supplement and no penalty on annuity.
Q. I am a 51-year-old Defense Department employee with 13 years of continuous service under FERS and considering leaving federal service and working in the private sector. Since my minimum retirement age is 56, I am ineligible for the MRA+10 retirement option at this time. If I return to federal service at age 56 or later, is there a minimum duration that I would be required to work before I can retire under MRA+10? I have been continuously enrolled in Federal Employees Health Benefits for the past 13 years and would re-enroll immediately upon returning to federal service. I would also leave my FERS and TSP retirement untouched.
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?
November 15th, 2013 | annuity reduction Coverage after retirement Deferred retirement Eligibility EMPLOYMENT HEALTH INSURANCE Minimum retirement age MRA + 10 PAY Postal Service Re-enrollment Resignation RETIREMENT Special retirement supplement
Q. I am 49 and was wondering if I can retire at 52 with 20 years of Postal Service time even though my minimum retirement age is 56. If so, could I defer my pension until 60 and collect it then with a 5 percent penalty for each year before 62? Would I be eligible to continue my health benefits and collect the special retirement supplement until age 62 if I were to do that? Or would I have to use my MRA+10 computation to retire? If that is the case, would I then be able to continue my health benefits and receive the special retirement supplement at 56?
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?
Q. I am 39 and on disability retirement from the Postal Service. I initially turned down continuing my Federal Employees Health Benefits insurance. Is it possible to enroll now, seven years later?
Q. As a currently “working” federal employee with Federal Employees Health Benefits, soon to receive Medicare and Tricare for Life, how can FEHB be eliminated from the three insurances but be reobtainable should there be a lapse in Medicare or TFL?
The situation is simple for a federal employee going into retirement: Fill out form 79-9 electing to suspend FEHB for Medicare and TFL.
Is there a form or path to do the same if a federal employee continues to “work” and wants to eliminate FEHB coverage?
I am told, if “working,” an employee must cancel FEHB. It would be retainable during a future open season. The problem is this is done over the telephone without any written documentation such as a form 79-9 for a retired worker suspending his FEHB. Is it this confusing?
I have called the Office of Personnel Management, the Army Benefits Center, my local human resources office, Medicare and TFL. They either don’t know the answer or don’t feel obligated to impart any guidance for fear of giving misleading information. Can you shed some clear guidance on my question? I am aware that, to have TFL, one must be military retired and Medicare Part B must be purchased.
What is the order of precedence with FEHB, Medicare and TFL? I am told the following:
If working: FEHB, Medicare then TFL.
If retired: Medicare, FEHB then TFL
Of course, with FEHB not in the equation, it would be only Medicare and TFL in either case, working or retired.
November 8th, 2013 | Creditable service: FERS Deferred retirement FEHBP FERS annuity computation HEALTH INSURANCE LIFE INSURANCE MRA + 10 Postponed retirement Premiums Re-enrollment RETIREMENT Tricare
Q. I turn 60 on Jan. 1, 2015. I am a FERS employee who will have 20 years creditable service in January of 2014. If I retire Dec. 13, 2014 (the end of a pay period) do I understand correctly that my Federal Employees Health Benefits and Federal Employees Group Life Insurance coverage will be extended for 31 days at no cost to me?
I plan on postponing my annuity receipt until Jan. 1 (when I turn 60) to avoid the under-62 penalty. Also, do I understand correctly that since my postponed annuity date will be Jan. 1 that my first annuity payment will not be until February?
I am also an Air Force Reserve enlisted ART employee, so I have to leave at 60, but because of the changes to Reserve retired pay eligibility based on active duty orders, I qualify for Reserve Retirement pay earlier than 60. But as you know, if I retired when I was eligible, I would not be able to enroll in Tricare for retirees (except the plan for “gray area,” which involves paying the entire monthly premium).
Q. I am retired under CSRS and have chosen a survivor benefit for my wife. I have self-and-family Blue Cross/Blue Shield under Federal Employees Health Benefits. My wife and I have Medicare parts A and B. The Veterans Affairs Department has classified me 100 percent disabled, so I am also entitled to free medical benefits through the VA system and my wife is covered by CHAMPVA. I feel I’m grossly overinsured.
1. Can I suspend my FEHB coverage because of my VA coverage and have the option of re-enrolling if I lose my 100 percent disability (not very likely, but anything’s possible)?
2. If I suspend my FEHB coverage will my wife have the option of re-enrolling in FEHB when I die?
3. If I keep my FEHB coverage but choose self-only, can I add her back on if she loses CHAMPVA?
4. If I keep my FEHB coverage but choose self-only, can she get coverage under FEHB when I die?
Q. I am 65 and plan to retire in two years. I have Medicare now as my primary. I have federal Blue Cross as secondary and Tricare as third. (I am a retired Navy veteran.)
My wife is 59. She has had four knee replacements and has a lot of issues with arthritis. Tricare says I have to have Medicare Part A and B. Once I drop Tricare, I understand I cannot get it back.
I feel that my wife and I are grossly overinsured. However, it appears that I have to keep it all — Medicare A and B, Blue Cross and Tricare — for my wife and I to be covered in the future when needed.
Do I have any options? Should I keep Tricare, or should I drop the Part B of Medicare and just use my Blue Cross?
Q. I want to retire at age 57 with 28 years federal service and receive my health benefits but defer the annuity until age 62. Is that possible? My co-workers say I should work until age 59 with 30 years federal service and begin collecting all benefits then. What would the difference in the benefits be?
Q. My office is offering Voluntary Early Retirement Authority to qualified employees. I have been employed by the federal government for 26 years and have been covered under health insurance since my initial appointment. I carry the self-and-family plan.
I am considering taking the VERA in January. At the same time, I am considering an employment opportunity outside the federal government should I retire. That company provides health insurance for their employees and family members. I will not work for them long enough to carry their health benefits once I decide I am done working for good.
Is there a way to suspend my health insurance benefits, then re-enroll once I am no longer covered by the other company? Or, is it best to keep the plan I have now?
Q. I have a friend on a full disability retirement through FERS. He has become eligible for Medicaid and told me he wants to drop his Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance.
1. Is this a good idea?
2. If it is OK for him to drop it, what number does he call at the Office of Personnel Management to make that happen?
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.
Q. I am a 58-year-old retiree under CSRS with continued coverage under Federal Employees Health Benefits for family. I am now about to be employed full time in my state school system, which offers health benefits that seem better than my coverage under FEHB. If I select to stop deductions for FEHB to utilize the state coverage, will this terminate my ever going back to FEHB if I decide to drop my state health plan?
Q. I am a federal retiree on Medicare with a Federal Employees Health Benefits Medicare Advantage Plan. I am considering leaving the FEHB Medicare Advantage Plan to enroll in a non-FEHB Medicare Advantage Plan. Is it possible to return to a FEHB Medicare Advantage Plan in the future and receive the same benefits?