Reg Jones Expert's View

On December 31, 2009, the Office of Personnel management published a number of changes, clarifications and corrections to the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance program. While many of them affect small numbers of employees, retirees and survivors, others have more general application. I’ll focus on these.

 

Emergency Essential Employees

Public Law 106-398 allowed employees of the Department of Defense who are designated as “emergency essential” to elect Basic FEGLI coverage within 60 days of being so designated. Public Law 110-417 further allowed emergency essential DoD employees, as well as civilian employees deployed in support of a contingency operation, to elect Basic, Option A, and Option B coverage up to a maximum of five multiples. OPM is amending the regulations to make these opportunities clear and explicit.

 

Changes in Family Circumstances

At present, when family circumstances change, an employee must already have basic insurance and may only elect Option B and C coverage. Further the number of allowed multiples under Option B is limited. OPM now proposes to eliminate the restrictions on the kinds and amounts of coverage an employee may elect.

 

Newly Eligible Employees

While current regulations require than a newly eligible employee be in pay and duty status before Optional insurance can be effective, the six month belated opportunity election opportunity following the one in which the employee first became eligible does not require that the employee be in pay and duty status at that time. OPM proposes to close that unintended loophole by requiring that the insurance be retroactive to the first pay period beginning after the date the individual became eligible, if the employee was in pay and duty status on that date. Otherwise, the coverage becomes effective on the first day after the date the employee returned to pay and duty status.

 

Time Frames

OPM is further proposing that the time frame for making an initial election of Optional insurance from 31 days to 60 calendar days after an employee becomes eligible. Likewise, it is proposing to extend the time frame for electing coverage by providing satisfactory medical information from 31 to 60 days after the Office of Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance gives its approval. Both changes are designed to make these time frames consistent with other election opportunities for federal benefits.

 

These are but a few among many. If you’d like to review them all, go to http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-31023.pdf.