Reg Jones Expert's View

One of life’s greatest fears is that you will be unable to care for yourself because of chronic mental or physical problems. The same goes for one of your family members. Having to provide services, such as nursing home care, home health care or care in assisted living facilities, can be an emotional and financial burden. The Federal Long-Term Care Insurance program was created to lift some of that burden off your back.

As a rule, if you are an employee of the federal government, you only need to be eligible for the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program to be eligible to apply to enroll in FLTCIP.

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Note the phrase “apply to enroll.” Unlike other federal employment-related insurance programs, in which you are automatically eligible to enroll if you meet basic conditions, to get FLTCIP coverage you have to undergo underwriting.

Eligibility to apply for FLTCIP includes current employees, their spouses (and domestic partners), their parents, and adult children at least 18 years old. It also includes federal annuitants and their spouses, survivor spouses and deferred annuitants, parents, parents-in-law, stepparents of living employees and their parents (but not 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.

If you are a newly hired employee, you and your spouse (if pertinent) have 60 days to apply. If you are already are an employee and have just gotten married, your spouse will also have a 60 day window in which to apply. In either case, only abbreviated underwriting applies. That means only seven health-related questions, which basically determine if someone is immediately eligible for benefits. A spouse 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.

If you are deemed for coverage, you’ll have a range of choices–a maximum benefit, the length of the policy you want, and whether to have inflation protection. A premium calculator is available at www.ltcfeds.com–click on Planning Tools & Resources.

The premiums you pay will be based on those factors and your age and will be solely at your cost. There is no government contribution.

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ask.FEDweek.com: FLTCIP – Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program