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Federal Employees Benefits Q &A

Do you have questions about your federal employee CSRS or FERS pension/annuity or federal employee retirement planning? Concerns about your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) account or what about federal employee pay and leave issues?

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The Q&A forum is moderated by Ed Zurndorfer -- an expert on federal employee benefits -- and a Certified Financial Planner, chartered life underwriter and chartered financial consultant in Maryland.

Zurndorfer is also the author of several federal employee benefits guides published by Federal Employees News Digest.

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FedCivServ  
#1 Posted : Tuesday, September 11, 2018 12:20:12 PM(UTC)

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Hello Ed, i just went to a retirement seminar and the briefer mentioned even if you have Tricare, and not FEHB, you can sign up for FEHB before retirement and then suspend it. i am retiring in January and would like to do this. Do i have to wait for FEHB open season? How does it work to sign up and immediately suspend... will i have to pay any premiums at all? i have never heard of this but want to keep all my options open regardless of where i live after retirement. thanks!
Ed Zurndorfer  
#2 Posted : Tuesday, September 11, 2018 4:45:05 PM(UTC)
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You would have to enroll in a FEHB plan during the "open season" that precedes the year you intend to retire from Federal service. You would have to be enrolled in the FEHB plan for at least one day of the last year of your Federal service and then after you retire from Federal service, suspend your FEHB plan. This will allow you during any point of your Federal retirement to suspend your TriCare coverage and re-enroll in an FEHB plan.
FedCivServ  
#3 Posted : Wednesday, September 12, 2018 5:36:13 AM(UTC)

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thanks... So pulling that thread... the last day of open season in 2018 is Dec 10. If i enroll in FEHB on Dec 10, and i don't retire until Jan 18, 2019 does that mean i have to pay premiums between 10 Dec and 18 Jan? Could i just enroll on 10 Dec and then suspend it on 11 Dec and still be ok for retirement? i really don't want the insurance at all now; i hate to have to pay for something i don't plan on using (at least not pre-retirement). thanks for your help!
Ed Zurndorfer  
#4 Posted : Wednesday, September 12, 2018 5:51:18 AM(UTC)
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You will have to pay FEHB premiums for at least one or two pay dates in January 2019. Your plan (enrolling on Dec. 10 and suspending coverage on Dec. 11) simply will not work.
FedCivServ  
#5 Posted : Friday, September 21, 2018 9:12:32 AM(UTC)

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OK, thanks. i guess i didn't realize the insurance did not kick in until 2019 (i haven't had FEHB for about 15 years now, just Tricare). So i could sign up for a low cost plan, self only, suspend upon retirement, and then if i decided to restart it in the future, i could do whatever plan I wanted and do it for self plus 1 (spouse), correct? thanks for your patience...:)
Ed Zurndorfer  
#6 Posted : Friday, September 21, 2018 11:44:48 AM(UTC)
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You are almost correct. You cannot suspend your FEHB plan upon retirement from Federal service (not a life event); you will have to wait until the first FEHB "open season" after you retire to suspend your FEHB plan.
FedCivServ  
#7 Posted : Tuesday, October 16, 2018 6:34:20 AM(UTC)

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So i just went into my book from the retirement seminar i attended in August (National Institute of Transition booklet, same one you use when you teach the seminar) and on page 3-3 it says: "Retirees, survivor annuitants, and certain former spouses may suspend, rather than cancel, their FEHB coverage in order to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan, Medicare HMO, Medicaid, Peace Corps, TRICARE or TRICARE for Life. Those who are eligible can apply to suspend their coverage at any time." So since i am already enrolled in TRICARE, why can't i suspend the FEBH after i retire? The way i read this it sounds like i don't have to wait for open season? This book is dated 2018. Thanks!
Ed Zurndorfer  
#8 Posted : Tuesday, October 16, 2018 4:18:15 PM(UTC)
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You will have to wait until the next “open season” to suspend your FEHB coverage. This is because you have not lost your other health insurance - Tricare - and retiring from Federal service is not considered a “life event” for the purpose of suspending your FEHB health insurance.
FedCivServ  
#9 Posted : Wednesday, October 17, 2018 4:07:20 AM(UTC)

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Thank you Ed. One more question: If i sign up for FEHB self plus one, do i have to choose a survivor annuity? i am fine with my spouse having no FEHB should i die before him, given we have TRICARE. We have discussed and would prefer to NOT do a survivor annuity for him when i retire as long as it will still allow me to sign up for FEHB and have coverage for both of us if we choose to do so after suspending, and have coverage for him as long as i'm alive, understanding that if i die first, he won't have the option any longer. The language on that is pretty fuzzy to me. thanks!
Ed Zurndorfer  
#10 Posted : Wednesday, October 17, 2018 6:36:21 AM(UTC)
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You do not have to give a survivor annuity to your spouse in order to have “self plus one” FEHB coverage during your retirement.
nearlyDone  
#11 Posted : Friday, November 9, 2018 1:00:10 PM(UTC)
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I am retiring 12/31/18, with FEHB for self plus one coverage, then suspending when my wife and I both have part B and Medicare Advantage plan. I called OPM today, and they confirmed that I could suspend at any time ( not just Open Season ) as soon as I have Medicare Advantage. But to go back and re-start my FEHB we would have to do that during Open Season. She said to call and get the form to suspend as soon as we apply for Med Adv and then it might take about 30 days to suspend.
Is this different for the Tricare person ? OPM was clear that for me I could suspend without waiting for open season.
nearlyDone  
#12 Posted : Friday, November 9, 2018 2:05:14 PM(UTC)
nearlyDone

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Two notes to add to this topic:

ON last post, I would add "in your scenario. However you do need a 25% or 50% spousal annuity if you want your spouse to be able to continue in FEHB if you die".

Also, as I think I submitted earlier, OPM confirmed to me today that you can suspend outside of Open Season when you join Medicare Advantage or ...
Ed Zurndorfer  
#13 Posted : Monday, November 12, 2018 5:31:27 AM(UTC)
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FedCivServ  
#14 Posted : Tuesday, November 13, 2018 1:03:45 PM(UTC)

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nearlyDone, i was told the same thing by my agency retirement counselor and was given a reference on the OPM home page. i don't need to wait til open season to suspend.
Ed Zurndorfer  
#15 Posted : Tuesday, November 13, 2018 2:37:33 PM(UTC)
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