Expert's View

Reg Jones

If you are like me, one of your greatest fears is that you won’t be able to care for yourself because of chronic mental or physical problems. That same fear applies to what may happen to your family members.

Providing services, such as nursing home care, home health care or care in assisted living facilities, can be an emotional and financial burden. Fortunately, the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) was created to lift some of that burden off your shoulders.

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Enrollment eligibility
The good news is this: If you are an employee of the federal government, you only need to be eligible to enroll in the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program to enroll in FLTCIP. Whether you elect that coverage is entirely up to you. If you do, you’ll pay 100 percent of the premiums. Unlike the FEHB program, the government doesn’t pay a share of the cost.

Further, eligibility to enroll in FLTCIP isn’t confined to current employees, their spouses (including domestic partners), their parents, and adult children at least 18 years old. It also includes federal annuitants, survivor spouses and deferred annuitants, parents, parents-in-law, stepparents of living employees and their parents (but not of domestic partners or annuitants), plus members of the armed forces (and members if the National Guard who are called to active duty), and retired reservists who are entitled to retired or retainer pay. Talk about flexible!

Enrollment timing
If you are a newly hired employee, you and your spouse (if any) have 60 days to apply for FLTCIP. If you are already on the employment roll and have just gotten married, your spouse will have a 60 day window in which to apply.

In either case, you’ll only be subject to abbreviated underwriting. That means you’ll only have to answer seven health-related questions, which help to determine if you are immediately eligible for benefits. If you have a spouse, he or she will have to answer two more questions about mobility and the need for help with everyday tasks.

If you don’t apply within the limits above, you’ll be subject to full underwriting. In other words, you’ll not only have to answer the questions mentioned above but you’ll also have to answer numerous health-related and lifestyle questions.

Benefit levels
If you decide to enroll in FLTCIP, you’ll have to choose a maximum benefit, the length of the policy you want, and the type of inflation protection. The premiums you pay will be based on those factors and your age at the time of purchase. A premium calculator is available at www.ltcfeds.com, click on Planning Tools & Resources.

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