Expert's View

All of you federal employees who have end-of-year itchy feet want to know if you’ll be able to continue your Federal Employees Health Benefits and/or Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance coverage if you leave government on an immediate, postponed, deferred or disability annuity.

Here’s the answer. If you are retiring on an immediate annuity (including disability), you can continue your FEHB and/or FEGLI coverage into retirement but only if you are 1) currently enrolled and 2) have been enrolled for at least five years or from your earliest opportunity to enroll.


If you are a FERS employee who is retiring on an immediate annuity but are postponing its receipt to a later date to reduce or eliminate the 5 percent per year penalty for retiring under the MRA+10 provision, you’ll be able to reenroll in the FEHB program when your annuity begins. On the other hand, you can’t reenroll in either program if you leave government before being eligible to retire and later apply for a deferred annuity when you have the right combination of age and service.

While there’s an automatic waiver of the FEHB five-year rule if you are accepting an offer of early retirement (VERA) from your agency, no waiver is possible for FEGLI. Nor are waivers of the “currently enrolled” or “retiring on an immediate annuity” requirements available under either program.

Here’s what happens if you aren’t eligible to carry your FEHB and/or FEGLI coverage into retirement. Under the FEHB program, you’ll be given a 31-day extension of coverage at no cost to you. After that you can drop your coverage, covert to an individual contract or request Temporary Continuation of Coverage. TCC will let you keep your FEHB coverage for up to 18 months. However, you’ll have to pay 100 percent of the premiums plus 2 percent to cover administrative costs.

Under the FEGLI program, you’ll be granted the same 31-day extension of coverage that’s available in the FEHB program. After that your choices are limited. You can either drop the coverage or convert all or part of it to a private policy at your own expense.

If either FEHB or FEGLI coverage are important to you, it would be a good idea to think twice before leaving government before you are eligible to continue that coverage.