A self and family enrollment in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program covers you, your spouse and your unmarried dependent children under age 22, including your legally adopted children and recognized children born out of wedlock. While many later-career employees naturally concentrate on rules for continuing coverage for themselves and their spouses in retirement, they can easily overlook the age 22 cutoff for children and risk having them lose coverage unknowingly.

Generally speaking, a child loses eligibility for coverage at marriage or attaining age 22, whichever occurs first. A child whose marriage ends in divorce or annulment before he or she reaches age 22 again becomes eligible for coverage from the date of the divorce or annulment until he or she reaches age 22 or remarries. A disabled child, age 22 or older, loses eligibility for coverage at marriage or recovery of ability for self-support.

If your family member loses eligibility for coverage for any of these reasons, his or her coverage will continue for 31 days after the terminating event. During this 31-day period, the family member can convert to a nongroup contract offered by your insurance carrier. To do this, the family member needs to contact the carrier.

Exception: In the case of an unmarried child incapable of self-support because of a disability that began before age 22 (and which is expected to last more than one year) coverage continues after reaching age 22.