Children’s Benefits—Life and Health Insurance

Over the last two weeks, I’ve written about survivor annuities provided to children who meet eligibility criteria. You can refer back to those to see what they are. This time, I want to talk about insurance benefits.

Life insurance

If you are an employee or retiree who is covered by the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program, the proceeds on your death generally go to the surviving spouse. If there isn’t any surviving spouse, the proceeds usually go to the beneficiary you designate or, if you haven’t done that, to your child or children (who are next in the next in line under the standard order of precedence).

Health benefits

If you die while enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) program and have Self and Family coverage, all your survivors who meet the definition of “family member” will automatically be able to continue that coverage, as long as any one of them receives a survivor annuity. If there is only one survivor annuitant and no other family member is eligible for continued coverage, the enrollment should be changed to the less expensive Self Only coverage.

In the past, a child could only continue to be covered under a survivor parent’s FEHB plan until he or she reaches age 22. However, the law changed effective with the start of 2011. As a result, if you are enrolled in a Self and Family option of your plan and you have a child who is under age 26, he or she can be covered by it, even if married.

If there is no surviving parent, your child’s coverage generally ends when the annuity ends. At that point, your child may convert to an individual policy (with lower benefits) or apply for temporary continuation of coverage (TCC) with FEHB-level benefits for up to 36 months. In either cases, the child will have to pay the full cost and, with TCC, an additional 2 percent for administrative expenses.

Because the rules for continuing FEHB coverage are different for a disabled child, I’ll fill you in about that next week.