Expert's View

fehb spouse coverage

Over the last two weeks, I’ve explained the five-year rule, which determines your eligibility to carry your FEHB coverage into retirement, and spelled out the circumstances under which that requirement may be waived. I’ve also explained how health benefits coverage and cost continues unchanged into retirement, and how FEHB and Medicare interact. Now I want to focus on spousal coverage.

As long as you are enrolled in either the Self Plus One or Self and Family option, your spouse is automatically eligible to continue that coverage when you retire, even if he or she has only been covered for one day. The five-year rule doesn’t apply to a covered spouse. The same is true of a covered child under the age of 26.


Continued coverage isn’t an issue if you were still employed when you died, since your widow(er) would automatically be entitled to a full survivor annuity. However, although the law requires that you provide a full survivor annuity for your spouse when you retire, that law does include an option.

With your spouse’s agreement in a notarized document, you can elect a lesser amount or none at all. However, if you choose that latter course, your widow(er) would not be able to continue coverage in an FEHB plan, unless he or she had the right to do so by virtue of being a current federal employee or retiree.

In the next two weeks, we’ll look at who is eligible for Medicare and when they become eligible and then the relationship between the FEHB program and Medicare when it come to the payment of benefits.

Taking FEHB into Retirement Without a Hitch

FEHB, One of the Most Valuable Benefits to Feds

Proving Your Entitlement to FEHB after Retirement

What Comes Out of Your FERS Pension?

FERS Retirement Guide 2022