My article on legislation that would allow dependent children to be covered by their parent’s FEHB policy up to age 26 got me thinking about the differences in age cutoffs for other children’s benefits. Last week I wrote about the survivor benefits for the children of deceased federal employees and retirees. This week I want to look at Option C in the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance program.
Option C provides coverage for your spouse and eligible family members. Eligible dependent children are defined as a child born of the marriage, an adopted child, a stepchild who lives with you in a regular parent-child relationship, or a recognized natural child. In addition, your child must be unmarried and under age 22 or, if age 22 or over, must be incapable of self-support because of a physical or mental disability that existed before the child reached age 22.
To be eligible for Option C coverage, you must be covered by Basic insurance; then if you want Option C coverage, you may elect up to five multiples. Each multiple is equal to $5,000 for your spouse and $2,500 for each eligible dependent child. The number of multiples you elect applies to all of your eligible family members. You can’t elect one number of multiples for your spouse and a different number for your eligible dependent children.
Unlike Basic insurance, where the government pays a portion of the premiums, you must pay the entire amount for Option C coverage, the amount of which depends on your age. Here is a list of the current monthly premiums for each multiple:
Under age 35 $0.59
Age 35 through 39 $0.74
Age 40 through 44 $1.00
Age 45 thought 49 $1.30
Age 50 through 54 $1.95
Age 55 through 59 $3.14
Age 60 through 64 $5.63
Age 65 through 69 $6.50
Age 70 through 74 $7.37
Age 74 through 79 $9.75
Age 80+ $13.00
If you have Option C coverage and retire before age 65, at age 65 you will no longer be required to pay any premiums; however, if you don’t, your coverage amount will begin to decrease at a rate of 2 percent per month for 50 months until it reaches zero. Whether you want to continue to pay premiums to keep the same level of coverage is up to you.
While Option C benefits cannot be paid to a minor, a child who has reached the age of 18 is considered to be an adult and can receive a benefit payment in his or her name. However, if the age of adulthood where the individual has legal residence is set at a lower age, the child is considered an adult upon reaching that lower age. This policy differs from the recent legislative change that allows unmarried dependent “children” to be covered by a parent’s FEHB policy until age 26.