Hitting age 65 brings several important changes for federal retirees that are worth knowing and planning for, even for those still some distance from that age.

Typically at age 65 you become eligible for health benefits coverage under Medicare. Contact your local Social Security Office and apply for Medicare. If you are eligible for Medicare but you do not apply, you will pay a Medicare penalty from the time you do apply for Medicare until you die.

When you are eligible for Medicare, you have the option of asking the Office of Personnel Management to change your health benefits enrollment to a less expensive plan. You may make this change 30 days before you are 65 or at any time thereafter.

Also your life insurance under the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance program will start to reduce at the rate of 2 percent per month beginning the second month following your 65th birthday unless you pay premiums to prevent the reduction. If you allow the reductions to occur, OPM will stop withholding premiums for Basic life insurance and all options the beginning of the month after you are 65.

You can reduce the cost of your life insurance only by reducing your coverage. For example, you can cancel your optional life insurance and you can decide not to pay to prevent the reduction to FEGLI. However, if you cancel your Basic life insurance, you cannot continue any optional insurance you may have and cannot reinstate life insurance that you have cancelled.