Formal retirement planning can — and some would say should — start as much as five years in advance of the individual’s earliest retirement date. At that point you may need some preliminary information to make decisions about when you can afford to retire and whether to make any necessary payments to receive credit for military or non-contributory service or repay any retirement contribution refunds.


But more important, the five-year figure is a sort of magic number for insurance coverage purposes. Generally speaking, you may continue your heath insurance coverage into retirement only if you meet the conditions including coverage when you retire and continuous coverage under FEHB or Tricare (the military health benefits program) for:


  • the five years immediately before retiring; or
  • during all of your federal employment since your first opportunity to enroll.

The government can waive the five-year participation requirement when it is against equity and good conscience not to allow an individual to participate in the health insurance program as a retiree. However, the law says that a person’s failure to meet the five-year requirement must be due to exceptional circumstances. When someone is retiring voluntarily, a waiver may not be appropriate because he or she can continue working until the requirement is met.


To continue Basic FEGLI in retirement, you must meet conditions including being insured for the five years immediately preceding retirement or the full periods of service when coverage was available. To keep optional insurance, you must meet conditions including coverage by the optional life insurance for the five years immediately preceding retirement or the full periods of service when coverage was available, if less than five years. The requirements for continuing life insurance cannot be waived. However, if you are not eligible to continue coverage, you will be given the chance to change it to an individual policy.