Let’s Talk About Life Events –Separation, Annulment or Divorce

I started this series on life events with the good stuff: marriage and children. Now I want to write about what happens to marital benefits if you are faced with separation, annulment or divorce.

FEHB benefits while separated

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, your spouse is eligible to continue that coverage.

FEHB benefits when your marriage ends

Even if a court order requires that your ex-spouse be covered by your FEHB enrollment, federal law mandates that the coverage end at midnight of the day your annulment or divorce is final. However, he or she can receive health benefits coverage under the spouse equity provisions, the temporary continuation of coverage (TCC) provision or by converting to an individual policy with your FEHB carrier. For more information on these options, go to www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/reference-materials/reference/former-spouses.

If no one else is covered under your enrollment when the annulment or divorce is final, you can switch to self only. You can also switch to another plan or option. However, if you have additional eligible family members, you can continue to be covered under the self and family option or, if there is only one eligible member, move to self plus one. You have 60 days after the event to make a change. You can do that by completing a Standard Form 2809 and submitting it to your agency personnel office (or OPM is you are a retiree). You can download a copy of that form at www.opm.gov/forms.

FEGLI designation of beneficiary

If you are enrolled in the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance program and designated your spouse as the one you wanted to receive the proceeds of your policy if you died, you may want to change that now that you are no longer married. To do that, you’ll need to complete a Standard Form 2823. You can download a copy at www.opm.gov/forms.

Survivor annuity

If you a current employee you were required by law to provide a survivor annuity for your spouse. The same is true if you were married before you retired (unless your spouse agreed in writing to waive eligibility). In either case, that requirement to provide a survivor annuity ends when your annulment or divorce is final unless the former spouse has been granted a portion of your annuity in the divorce decree. If your annuity hasn’t been apportioned, you’ll need to let your agency know (or OPM if you are a retiree) that you are no longer married. If it has been apportioned, your ex-spouse will have to properly file the paperwork with OPM to preserve his or her rights.