By Reg Jones
May 15th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. A little over three years ago, I retired under FERS.
I was a widower at the time, so no survivor benefit was being withheld from my pay.
I now intend to remarry a French citizen and will reside here in the states for a time, then move to France. I would like her covered by my FEHB, at least while we are in the U.S.
Can I sign up now for a full survivor benefit for her? How much will it cost me? I read somewhere that it costs 10 percent of my current annuity plus the difference between the new annuity and old annuities paid to me for the number of months retired, plus 6 percent interest on that money.
Since she is at least not yet an American citizen, when I die, can she still receive the survivor annuity, whether continuing to reside here or if she returns to France? Would she receive COLAs on her portion of the annuity? If she returned to France, would she be obligated to pay taxes in both countries? Of course, as part of FERS, I also receive a Social Security benefit, based on my length of service and work record. Would a new spouse be entitled as a beneficiary to any or all of my Social Security when I die? She, of course, has never worked here in the states and so has not contributed to Social Security.
Q. 1. I left the Fed in November 2011 with 22 years of creditable service (military time buyback included) and, as I am under my MRA of 56, would not be eligible for my retirement benefits without penalty until age 62, correct? 2. Can I work part time (consultant) on an agency’s payroll without affecting my current status, or would that part time add to my benefit? 3. Also, if I came back to the Fed and did three more years of full-time work before age 62, would that reinstate my health benefits?
Q. I am a postal employee with self-only coverage. My wife works in private industry and has her own self coverage. Do I need to convert to family coverage and add my wife five years before I retire to keep her on my health insurance? Also, where can I find answers to questions like this?
Q. I was on Blue Cross/Blue Shield for 15 years through my husband’s employment with a city, but the city contracted with Coventry Health Care instead, about one year and two months ago. I have also been with Tricare (formerly CHAMPUS) through my husband’s retirement from the Navy in 1993. We are divorcing after 37 years of marriage, and I would like to switch to BC/BS in FEHB through my federal employment. If I retire before I have vested five years in BC/BS, will I not be able to take it into retirement? Someone told me that if I had been with TRICARE all these years, that somehow I was already considered vested in a federal health care insurance and could switch over to BC/BS and take the health insurance into my retirement. Is that true? Or do I need to actually work for five more years?
Q. I am 50, have 20 years under FERS and am thinking of retiring in six years when I reach my MRA of 56. If I do this, will I get health insurance coverage right away? Also, can I retire at 56 but delay retirement payments until 60 (or is it 62?) so I can avoid the 5 percent-per-year reduction in the payout? My main concern is keeping health insurance in place as soon as I retire at 56 — I can afford to delay the payout.
Q. I am a federal retiree and have the standard BC/BS coverage for my spouse and myself, plus Medicare Parts A and B. Our only out-of-pocket expenses with these plans are co-pays for prescriptions. Other federal retirees tell me I am over-insured and should drop Medicare Part B.
If I did this, would I still have the same coverage I have now, or would I then have out-of-pocket expenses?
Q. Regarding carrying health insurance into retirement at age 60 when one has had a break in service: I began full time with the federal government at age 30 in 2005 but would like to change careers in my mid-40s and become a science and math teacher.
I read that I need to have the last five years covered under FEHB to carry health insurance into retirement. Does this apply if I have fewer than 30 years of service? Can I become a teacher at 44, then return to federal service at 55 and expect to have health insurance at 60?
Q. My husband died at age 51 in 2000. He worked 28 years for USPS, plus four years in the military, for 32 years (he paid no Social Security taxes for the 28 years in USPS). I have received widow’s death benefit annuity payments since his death, in addition to purchasing the USPS medical insurance plan. I worked full time in the medical profession until his death and have worked part time since 2000. I would like to take my Social Security at age 62 (in 3 years). Am I still eligible to receive the USPS death benefit annuity (and insurance option) once I start collecting my Social Security?
Q. My wife just resigned from the U.S. Forest Service. She is 44 with more than 20 years of service. Did she lose all of her retirement, or is she still eligible to receive a portion at the reduced rate of 5 percent?
She was always in a position covered under firefighter retirement, eligible at 50 to retire. Also, is she still eligible for health benefits?
Q. I understand that when you retire, Medicare is your primary and federal insurance is your secondary. Will federal insurance still pay for prescription drugs even if you do not have a plan under Medicare?
Q. If I have 20 years of federal service (including more than 15 in the foreign service) but I haven’t turned 50, can I retire but defer receipt of my benefits/pension until I am eligible at age 50? For example, an employee is 47 years old and has completed 20 years of federal service. Can that employee leave the service and still receive full retirement benefits beginning at age 50?
Q. I recently retired from the Veterans Affairs Department and applied for Medicare Part B coverage. My FEHBP is still in effect. The Social Security office sent forms that appear to need agency certification. Who does this? The employing agency or OPM? I’m not getting answers. OPM’s number is constantly busy, and my former human resources office isn’t returning calls. I’m trying to get the coverage and avoid any financial disaster.
Q. I am 65, have worked for USDA intermittently since 1965 (recurring and temporary in the early years) and have been in my present position with USDA-ARS since 1999. I plan to retire (in FERS) in two or three years. My insurance provider for more than 10 years has been Blue Cross/Blue Shield Federal Employee Program. I am signed up for Medicare Part A. My wife, several years younger than I, is a health provider in private practice. She and my two children (elementary school age) are now covered under the federal employee plan above. My understanding is they can remain covered by the plan when I retire (although some aspects of plan coverage change because of my enrollment in Medicare Part A). After retirement, can I continue to pay premiums (covering me and my family) of the same amount as I now pay? In other words, will the U.S. government continue to pay the same portion of the premium as it does now?
Q. I am a CSRS employee. Upon retirement, I would like to know what minimum percentage/amount of survivor benefit has to be in effect for my husband to continue to receive health benefits if I pre-decease him. Does the annuity have to be enough to cover the premium? If so, what would happen if the insurance rates increased dramatically over time and the annuity no longer covered 100 percent of the premium? My husband is willing to provide a notarized “less than all” annuity base. The bottom line is that I want to carry only enough survivor benefit to ensure health benefits.
Q. I retired as a GS-14, CSRS employee, at 30 years. If I take a GS-15 position, does the retirement stop, or is the pay just offset by the amount of the annuity? Do you pay into the CSRS retirement fund or FERS, or can one defer? Does health insurance continue from the retirement or from the new payroll?
Q. I am 49 and will shortly leave federal service, temporarily (I hope). I have 19 years of service and have always been an FEHB subscriber. When I return to federal service in my 50s, will I need to have an additional five years of FEHB-covered service before retiring with FEHB benefits? That is, does the consecutive five-year rule refer to (a) five years before retirement or (b) five consecutive years when one is eligible to subscribe to FEHB? For example, could I return to federal service at age 54 (as an FEHB subscriber) and then retire at my MRA (age 56) while carrying FEHB benefits into retirement?
Q. I am a 43-year-old attorney considering leaving federal service for the private sector. I have 9½ years of service, have been enrolled in FEHB for that entire time and am deciding whether any benefit would vest or accrue to me if I stay 10 full years rather than leaving a few months short of that. My human resources specialist says that if I have 10 years of service when I resign, then I would be eligible to apply for an early retirement annuity at age 57 (MRA+10, I think) and re-enroll in FEHB at that age. Is he correct? My primary concern is not the early annuity option but whether I would be eligible to re-enroll in FEHB upon retirement.
Q. Can a retired employee quit his Federal Employees Health Benefits in retirement for, say, Tricare for Life and Medicare if retired military, and later opt to switch back to FEHB?
Q. I am a recent retiree and have to decide whether to obtain Medicare Part B coverage. I have, and intend to keep, my Blue Cross coverage. I am trying to determine whether I should opt for Medicare Part B for my wife and I, even though I have Blue Cross. The Medicare Part B monthly payments would range about $150 for each of us.
March 30th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I heard on television that, under the Affordable Care Act, children can stay on your medical plan until age 26, but spouses are not considered dependents. My wife is a few years younger than me and, when I retire next year, will she still be covered under Federal Employees Health Benefits?