This is the third in a series of articles about life events and how they might affect you. I started with marriage and moved on to children. Now I’m moving to the other side and writing about what happens if you are separated or divorced.
FEHB benefits before marriage ends
If you are enrolled in either the self plus one or self and family option, your spouse is eligible to continue coverage under your FEHB enrollment if you are legally separated or in the process of getting an annulment or a divorce.
FEHB benefits when marriage ends
Without exception, your ex-spouse’s coverage ends at midnight of the day your annulment or divorce is final. That’s true even if a court order requires that coverage. However, he or she has three options available for continuing health benefits coverage: under the spouse equity act, the temporary continuation of coverage (TCC) provision or by converting to an individual policy with your FEHB carrier. For more information on these options, go to www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/reference-materials/reference/former-spouses.
As for you, if there is no one else covered under your enrollment (note that a court divorce order may require you to maintain coverage on any eligible child or children, for example), you can switch to self-only. Further, you’d have the option of switching to another plan or option. On the other hand, if you have additional family members, you can continue to be enrolled under the self and family option or, if there is only one eligible member, move to self plus one. If you are making a change, within 60 days after the event, you’ll have to complete a Standard Form 2809 and submit it to your agency personnel office (or OPM is you are a retiree). You can download a copy of that form at www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf2809.pdf.
FEGLI designation of beneficiary
If you are enrolled in the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance program, you filled out a designation of beneficiary form indicating who you wanted to receive the proceeds of your policy if you died. If you designated your spouse, you may want to change that now that you are no longer married. To make that change, you’ll need to complete a Standard Form 2823. If you are an employee, you can get a copy from your personnel office. Employee and retirees can download a copy at www.opm.gov/Forms/pdf_fill/2823.pdf.
Also note that a divorce order might require you to “assign” your FEGLI benefits to a former spouse, in which case you could not change the beneficiary to someone else.
While you are required by law to provide a survivor annuity for your spouse, that requirement ends when your annulment or divorce is final. However, to avoid any confusion in the future, you need to let your agency know (or OPM if you are a retiree) that you are no longer married.
Federal Dental and Vision Insurance Program
In the event of a divorce, you may decrease Federal Dental and Vision Insurance Program coverage from self and family to self plus one or to self-only, or from self plus one to self-only. If not done between 31 days before to 60 days after the divorce, it must wait until the next annual benefits open season and the higher level of premiums will continue for the meantime. Former spouses are not eligible for FEDVIP coverage; there is no spouse equity, temporary continuation of coverage or right to convert to an individual policy in FEDVIP. These changes are made through www.benefeds.com.
Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program
Anyone enrolled in the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program at the time of a divorce may keep that coverage by continuing to pay the premiums. However, a former spouse not covered at the time of a divorce would not be eligible to initially enroll afterward.
Flexible Spending Accounts
Divorce or legal separation is a qualifying status event allowing changes in allotments to flexible spending accounts. These changes are made through www.fsafeds.com.
Thrift Savings Plan
A court decree of divorce, annulment or legal separation can make an award from a participant’s TSP account to someone other than the participant, such as a spouse or a former spouse.