Life events such as marriage or the birth of a child impact your federal benefits in important ways. This article looks at what you need to do if you are separated or get divorced.

FEHB benefits while separated

If you are legally separated or in the process of getting an annulment or a divorce and are enrolled in either the self plus one or self and family option, your spouse will continue to be eligible for coverage under your FEHB enrollment.

Former spouse FEHB benefits when your marriage ends

On midnight on the day that your annulment or divorce is final, your former spouse’s coverage under your FEHB enrollment will end. That’s the law and it can’t be preempted by a court order requiring you to provide that coverage. On the other hand, your former spouse can continue that coverage at his or her own expense under the spouse equity act, the temporary continuation of coverage (TCC) provision, or by converting to an individual policy with your FEHB carrier. To find out more about these options, he or she should go to

Your FEHB benefits

After the divorce, you can continue to cover any other eligible family members under the self and family option of your FEHB plan or, if there is only one eligible member, you can change to self plus one. If there is no one else covered under your enrollment, you can switch to self-only. Further, you’ll have the option of switching to another plan or option. To make any of these changes, complete a Standard Form 2809 (available at and submit it to your agency personnel office (or OPM if you are a retiree).

FEGLI designation of beneficiary

If you signed up for the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance, you designated 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 a change, complete a Standard Form 2823, at that same site.

Survivor annuity

The requirement that you provide a survivor annuity for your spouse ends when your annulment or divorce is final. To make that entirely clear, you need to let your agency (or OPM, if you are retired) know that you are no longer married.

Next week I’ll fill you in on what happens to your benefits when you die.