Expert's View

Few benefit programs are as static as the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance Program. Except for rare and unpredictable open seasons, nothing much changes. So it was a surprise when a few items modifying the program were added to recent legislation. Even more surprising was the fact that while accommodating to these changes, OPM did a thorough dry cleaning of its regulations. While some of the changes are no more than minor tweaking of the program, others are more substantial. Let me show you.

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Among the more significant changes are these. Although DoD employees who are designated as "emergency essential" were able to elect Basic insurance within 60 days of being so designated, Public Law 110-417 expanded this to include civilian employees deployed in support of a contingency operation. They may now elect Basic insurance, Option A, and Option B up to a maximum of five multiples. In another change included in DoD legislation, federal employees who are called to active duty may keep their FEGLI coverage for up to 24 months, with the first 12 being free. For the remaining months, they would have to pay both their own and the government’s share.

On its own authority, OPM is dropping the earlier limitation which said that you had to have Basic insurance coverage before a change in family circumstances would allow you to elect Option B (with a limited number of multiples) and Option C coverage. Under the new regulations, if you have a change in your family circumstances, you may elect Basic and any or all of the Optional insurances up to the maximum number of multiples.

Speaking of Optional insurance, OPM has changed the time frame for making an initial election from 31 days to 60 calendar days after you first become eligible. The time frame is also extended if you need to provide satisfactory medical information to be covered. If you do provide that medical information and are approved for coverage by the Office of Federal Employees Group Life Insurance, that coverage now will be effective on the following day.

Although this won’t apply to many of you, if you have two jobs with the federal government, the amount of your Basic and Option B insurance is now based on your combined salaries. On the other hand, if you accept a temporary position while in a non-pay status from a covered position, your insurance would be based on the higher of the two salaries.

If you want to see all the changes, you’ll find them in the Federal Register, Vol. 75, No. 190, beginning on page 60573.