Reg Jones Expert's View

As the old saying goes, life is what happens when you’re making other plans. The important thing is to recognize which life events you really need to paid attention to and then take steps to protect your interests. Let’s start taking a look at events that could upend your world if you don’t deal with them in a timely manner: marriage, the birth of a child, divorce or death. In this article. For now, I’ll focus on marriage.

Life Events – Marriage

Survivor Annuity
If you are retired and get married, the decision about providing a survivor annuity is entirely up to you. There is no requirement that you do so.

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However, if you are an employee, you are required by law to provide a survivor annuity for your spouse. The form needed to designate a beneficiary is the same for employees and retirees: Standard Form 2808 (CSRS) or 3102 (FERS). These forms are available at www.opm.gov/forms.

Insurance
If you are already enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program, you can change your coverage. Whether you are an active employee or a retiree:

* If you have no eligible children and have been enrolled in self-only and you marry someone also with no eligible children, you can change to self plus one.

* If you were enrolled in self plus one to cover yourself and a single eligible child, you can change to self and family to cover your spouse (and any eligible child/children of your spouse).

* If you were enrolled in self and family to cover yourself and more than one eligible child, all you have to do is add your new spouse (and any eligible child/children of your spouse).

If you are an employee who wasn’t enrolled in the FEHB program at all, you can enroll on marriage. Unfortunately, if you are a retiree who wasn’t enrolled, you’re out of luck. Retirees are barred from enrolling in the FEHB program.

Enrollment changes must be made from 31 days before your marriage to 60 days after it. You can download the form (Standard Form 2809) at that same address. You’ll also be able to change your enrollment from one plan or option to another.

Similar rules apply under the Federal Dental and Vision Insurance Program, except that in FEDVIP, retirees may newly enroll. New enrollments and changes in existing enrollments are made at www.benefeds.com.

Under the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program, your newly married spouse is eligible to apply to enroll within 60 days using only a shortened form of underwriting. A spouse’s enrollment afterward is subject to full underwriting (note: marriage does not entitle you to apply using shortened underwriting). Applications are made through www.ltcfeds.com.

FEGLI and TSP
If you are enrolled in the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance program (FEGLI) and filled out a designation of beneficiary form when you were first hired, you may want to change that designation. The decision is up to you. Just remember, any different wishes you might later express in another way, including in a will, will not override whatever designation you have on file.

The same applies to your TSP account.

Whether you are an employee or a retiree, you can make the FEGLI change by filling out a Standard Form 2823, which you can download at that same OPM address. For the TSP, use Form TSP-3, available at www.tsp.gov/forms/civilianForms.html.

In both programs, if you make no designation, your spouse by default is the first beneficiary in a standard order of precedence.

What Happens to Your Federal Employee Benefits in Divorce?

More at ask.FEDweek.com

FEGLI Coverage Changes

FEHB Enrollment Special Considerations