Expert's View

Reg Jones

I began this series of articles on life events by focusing on decisions you have to make when you get married or have children. Now I’ll zero in on what married employees need to know about their federal insurance benefits—primarily meaning their Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) and Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI)—if they are separated or divorced.

FEHB benefits during separation
If you are legally separated – or in the process of getting an annulment or a divorce – and are enrolled in either the self plus one or self and family option of your FEHB plan, your spouse will be entitled to continue receiving benefits under that coverage.

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FEHB benefits when your marriage ends
Your former spouse’s FEHB coverage will end at midnight on the day your annulment or divorce is final. At that point, he or she can decide whether to continue that coverage. This can be done under:
• the spouse equity act,
• the temporary continuation of coverage (TCC) provision, or
• by converting to an individual policy with your own FEHB carrier.
You’ll find a detailed explanation of these options at www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/reference-materials/reference/former-spouses.

If you still have family members covered under your FEHB enrollment, you can stay in the Self and Family option or, if there is only one eligible member, you can move to Self Plus One. If no one else is covered under your FEHB enrollment, you can switch to Self Only. Regardless of your situation, you can switch to another plan or option. You can make that change within 60 days after your marriage ends by filling out a Standard Form 2809 and submitting it to your agency personnel office (or OPM if you are a retiree). You can download a copy of the form at www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf2809.pdf.

FEGLI designation of beneficiary
If you are enrolled in the FEGLI program, you’ll need to check to see who you designated to receive the proceeds of your life insurance policy if you die. If you named your spouse, you may want to change that designation now that you are divorced. To make a change, complete a Standard Form 2823, which you can download at www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf2823.pdf .

Survivor benefit
While you are required by law to provide a survivor annuity for your spouse, that requirement ends when your annulment or divorce is final. To avoid any future problems, you’ll have to let your agency know (or OPM if you are a retiree) that your marriage had ended.

Other insurance
After a divorce, an enrollment in the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program continues so long as the covered person continues to pay the premiums. Coverage under the Federal Dental and Vision Insurance Program ends, with no provisions for extending coverage, although now-former spouses could newly enroll if otherwise eligible by being a federal employee or retiree themselves.

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FERS Retirement Guide 2022