A widow or widower of a deceased retiree who is eligible for a survivor annuity under either CSRS or FERS and who was covered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program at the time of the retiree’s death can continue to participate in the program at the same cost as applies to workers and retirees. The survivor is eligible even if the amount of the survivor annuity is less than the monthly FEHBP premium, in which case the individual must remit the difference directly to the Office of Personnel Management.

However, the key is that the individual must be eligible for a survivor benefit. Thus, a decision not to provide for a survivor benefit after retirement typically excludes the survivors from FEHB eligibility (unless they were eligible in some other way, such as being federal employees themselves).

A retiree who marries or remarries after retirement can assure that his or her surviving spouse will be eligible for FEHB coverage by electing a survivor annuity. If a retired federal employee has a former spouse to whom a full survivor annuity was awarded through a qualified domestic relations order, the worker can at retirement (or at the time of remarriage, if later) entitle his or her current spouse to continue participating in the FEHB after the retiree’s death by electing survivor coverage for that spouse even though the current spouse might receive no survivor annuity as long as the former spouse is living and receiving the survivor annuity.

Unmarried dependent children of a deceased retiree may be able to continue to participate in the FEHB until age 26 provided that they were covered as family members by the retiree. In certain cases, coverage can continue for up to 36 months beyond the child’s 26th birthday under the “temporary continuation of coverage” provision.