Reg Jones Expert's View

Over the last two weeks, I’ve written about survivor annuities provided to children who meet the necessary criteria, including those who are incapable of self support. This week, I want to focus on life and health insurance benefits.

Life insurance

If you are an employee or retiree who was covered by the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance progam, the proceeds of your insurance will usually go to your surviving spouse. If there isn’t any surviving spouse, they’ll go to your child or children, who are next in line under the standard order of precedence. However, if you’ve designated someone else to be your beneficiary on a Standard Form 2823, the proceeds will be paid according to that designation.

Health benefits

If you die while enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits 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 one of them receives a survivor annuity.

If there is only one survivor annuitant and no other family member is eligible for continued coverage, he or she should change the enrollment to self only, which is much less expensive. Note: If you were enrolled in a self and family option of your plan and have a child who is under age 26, he or she can be covered by it, even if married. However, that enrollment can’t be extended to cover his or her spouse or children.

If there is no surviving parent, your child’s coverage will usually end when the child’s annuity ends (see my September 13 column). At that point, your child may convert to an individual policy (with lower benefits) or apply for temporary continuation of coverage for up to 36 months. In either case, your child will have to pay the full cost, plus 2 percent to cover administrative expenses.

Because the rules for continuing FEHB coverage are different for a disabled child, I’ll explain that difference next week.