Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Health coverage for spouse

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Q. I am 48 and will be eligible to retire in two years as I will have over 20 years in federal law enforcement. I am signed up for a family plan under FEHB which covers my 42-year old wife and a three-year-old daughter.  My wife just started a Federal job that will also give her access to FEHB. As I understand it, we will continue to be covered under my FEHB for life, and my wife would just decline enrollment when she starts her job. Does this make financial or prudent sense? We don’t believe she will work long enough to be officially retired so her benefits would not last into her retirement, only under mine. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dropping daughter’s coverage

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Q. I am enrolled in the Federal BCBS (self + family plan) and wanted to drop our 18-year-old daughter from the plan as she has moved out and does not associate with the family any longer. My local rep said this wasn’t possible but couldn’t state exactly why I couldn’t drop her … just said it couldn’t be done. I wasn’t comfortable with this answer and lack of explanation. If I am unable to drop her, who is responsible for the costs associated with her lifestyle? Read the rest of this entry »

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FERS MRA+10 and heath coverage

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Q. If my wife chose to retire now, at her minimum retirement age of 56 with 13 years of FERS service, would she be able to postpone her annuity until age 60?  She currently carries FEHB (self), as long as she has had it the last five years, can I pick her up under my FEHB (self+1 or family) once she retires and then when she becomes 60 she can reinstate her own self-plan at that point? Read the rest of this entry »

Removing a spouse from family coverage

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Q. I presently have self-and-family health insurance through Blue Cross-Blue Shield. I will retain family coverage for the children but want to drop my wife from coverage. Can I legally do this? She is eligible for Medicare due to disability. I am not retired.

A. No, you can’t. There are only two enrollment categories in the FEHB program: self and self-and-family. You are enrolled in the latter, which means that all your eligible family members are included.

Medicare

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Q. I’m enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. It seems taking Part A of Medicare, which is free, can’t hurt. Is that true? How would taking Part B of Medicare help or hurt? I now also cover my wife and three children.

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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 and my wife still works. 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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Medicare

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Q. I received notice that as of this month, Medicare will be deducting about $104 a month from my Social Security. My wife is 55 and employed. I am on her coverage. Must I have Medicare now if I am covered by my wife’s plan for another 10 years?

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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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Medicare Part B

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Q. I am 61 years old, a retired postal worker. My husband is turning 65 in July. I carry our medical insurance, Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Should my husband sign up for Medicare Part B, or is he required to do so?

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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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FEHB and disabled dependent

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Q. My 21-year-old daughter is disabled (diagnosed with osteosarcoma at age 14, limb salvage and metastatic). My husband retired from the Postal Service a few years ago, and she has been continued on our insurance plan through Federal Employees Health Benefits as she is under age 26.

1. At age 26, will she be allowed to remain on our FEHB insurance, which is her current primary coverage. She is on SSI and also has state Medicaid, which is her current secondary insurance coverage.

2. When my husband turns 65 and is Medicare eligible, will we be able to keep her as a child adult daughter on FEHB?

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Remarriage and FEHB

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Q. I understand if I’m over 55 and I remarry, I will not lose my survivor benefits. What about health care? I am now enrolled in the federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan. Would that change if I decided to remarry?

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Medicare Part B clarification

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Q. With respect to a recent post on Medicare Part B, just a quick follow-up to help me see the answer.

In the previous post, the person was a retired male under age 65 covered by self and family in the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan, so his working wife, age 65, has health coverage and doesn’t need Part B per your previous response since she is both working and covered.
1. When the male, who is retired, turns 65, does he have the option to carry the FEHB coverage past 65 so he doesn’t have to sign up for Part B even though he must register for Medicare?
2. If he can carry the FEHB coverage past age 65, does the situation change for his working wife?
3. If he has to switch to Part B coverage at age 65, does the situation change for his working wife?

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Medicare Part B

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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?

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FEHB coverage

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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.

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Survivor benefits

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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?

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Changing from self and family to self only

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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?

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Dropping wife from health insurance

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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?

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Medicare and continued spousal coverage

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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?

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