FEDweek

Returning Annuitants Can Rejoin ‘Premium Conversion’

Federal annuitants who are rehired by the government, unlike those who stay retired, can participate in the “premium conversion” arrangement under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. That factor might help some retirees decide whether to be accept reemployment, as increasing numbers of them are doing because the government is eager to continue using their expertise.

Generally speaking, active employees can participate in the arrangement but retirees cannot because of the tax code. However, rehired annuitants can get back into the premium conversion by having their FEHB premiums deducted from their pay as employees rather than from their retirement annuities. In order to allow eligible reemployed annuitants an opportunity to participate in premium conversion, their FEHB enrollment must be transferred from their retirement system to their employing agency.

If you are rehired in a position that conveys eligibility for FEHB coverage, as almost all federal jobs do, you may enroll in FEHB under the same terms as any newly hired employee. You will automatically participate in premium conversion unless you file a waiver.

Your participation in premium conversion ends on the last day of the last pay period as an employee. When you again separate from active service, your FEHB enrollment must be transferred back from your employing agency to OPM or the appropriate retirement system.

Note: If you take phased retirement, you don’t separate from service and therefore you are treated as an active employee for premium conversion purposes during the period of your phased retirement.