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Healthcare Reference Materials

Former Spouses

Note:

This section provides information for Federal employees and annuitants on FEHB benefits available under the Spouse Equity provisions of FEHB law. In this section:

  • "enrollee" means the Federal employee, former employee, or annuitant; and
  • "divorce" includes certain annulments.

Spouse Equity Act

Law

The Civil Service Retirement Spouse Equity Act of 1984 (Public Law 98-615) was enacted on November 8, 1984. Under this act, as amended, certain former spouses of Federal employees, former employees, and annuitants may qualify to enroll in a health benefits plan under the FEHB Program.

Eligibility

A former spouse is eligible to enroll under Spouse Equity provisions if:

  • the enrollee and the former spouse were divorced during the enrollee’s employment or receipt of annuity;
  • he/she was covered as a family member under an FEHB enrollment at least one day during the 18 months before the marriage ended (note: this requirement is also met when both the enrollee and the former spouse have FEHB enrollments);
  • he/she is entitled to a portion of the enrollee’s annuity or to a former spouse survivor annuity; and
  • he/she has not remarried before age 55.

The enrollee’s employing office will determine whether his/her former spouse is eligible to enroll.

Loss of Coverage as a Family Member

The former spouse loses coverage as a family member upon divorce, subject to a 31-day extension of coverage. However, his/her enrollment under the Spouse Equity provisions may not begin for several months after the divorce, depending on how long it takes to establish eligibility. To avoid a gap in coverage for this period, the former spouse may:

If the former spouse will seek coverage under Spouse Equity provisions, it is advisable to stay with the same plan.

If the former spouse acts promptly, he/she may request retroactive enrollment once the application for enrollment under the Spouse Equity provisions has been approved. For enrollment to be retroactive, the employing office must receive an appropriate request and satisfactory proof of eligibility within 60 days after the date of divorce.

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Enrollment

Enrolling under the Spouse Equity provisions is a three-step process. First, the former spouse must apply to enroll within the required time limit. Second, he/she must establish eligibility to enroll. Third, actual enrollment can take place only after the first two steps have been completed.

Type of Enrollment

A former spouse may elect a Self Only, Self Plus One, or Self and Family enrollment. A Self Plus One enrollment provides benefits for the former spouse and one eligible family member he/she designates to be covered. The former spouse may enroll in Self Plus One even though he/she has more than one eligible family member. A Self and Family enrollment provides benefits for the former spouse and all eligible family members. Eligible family members under a Spouse Equity enrollment are any natural or adopted children of the enrollee and his/her former spouse.

Where Former Spouses Apply

If the marriage ends before the enrollee’s retirement, his/her former spouse must apply and pay premiums to the employing office of the agency for which the enrollee worked when the marriage ended. If the application is approved, this will be designated the former spouse's employing office until he/she begins receiving annuity payments, even if the enrollee transfers to another employing office.

The former spouse must apply and pay premiums to the retirement system responsible for the annuity payment if:

  • he/she is receiving a portion of the enrollee’s retirement benefit or a former spouse survivor annuity;
  • the divorce occurred after the enrollee’s retirement; or
  • the divorce occurred before May 7, 1985, and the enrollee worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or the Foreign Service.

OPM is the former spouse's employing office if the enrollee is receiving compensation from the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP), and the health benefits enrollment had been transferred to OWCP before the marriage ended.

Application to Enroll

A former spouse's application to enroll can either be a completed Health Benefits Election Form (SF 2809) or a written notice of intent to apply for health benefits. His/her own name, date of birth, and Social Security number are entered on Part A of the SF 2809. The enrollee’s name and date of birth must be entered in the Remarks section.

If there is a mental or physical disability that prevents the former spouse from applying for benefits, a court appointed guardian may file the application.

Time Limit

A former spouse must apply for health benefits coverage within:

  • 60 days after the marriage ends;
  • 60 days after the date of OPM's notice of his/her eligibility to enroll based on a qualifying court order awarding entitlement to a portion of the enrollee’s future annuity (see section 5A5.1-2 of the CSRS/FERS Handbook for Personnel and Payroll Offices), or to a former spouse survivor annuity; or
  • 60 days after the date of the notice of his/her eligibility to enroll based on entitlement to a former spouse annuity under another retirement system for Government employees.

If a former spouse doesn't apply to the employing office in person, the employing office will use the postmark date on the application to determine if he/she meets the time limit.

Deferred Enrollment

Once the former spouse has applied to enroll within the required time limit, and has met all eligibility requirements, he/she may postpone actual enrollment indefinitely.

Determination of Entitlement to Future Annuity

When a former spouse applies to the employing office for benefits, it will advise him/her that he/she must send a written request to the retirement system for a determination of entitlement to either:

  • a portion of the enrollee’s future retirement annuity, or
  • a former spouse survivor annuity.

The request must include:

  • a certified copy (not a photocopy of a certified copy) of the divorce decree, property settlement, and/or court order (if applicable);
  • the enrollee’s name, date of birth, Social Security number, and last employing agency.

Unless the enrollee is subject to the CIA or Foreign Service retirement systems, OPM, not the employing agency, will make the former spouse annuity benefit determination based on the court order supplied. The former spouse cannot enroll until OPM makes its determination.

OPM will send the former spouse a written decision. If eligibility is determined, he/she will submit the decision to the enrollee’s employing office.

Retirement System Addresses

Retirement SystemRequest for Review Sent to
CSRS or FERS Office of Personnel Management, Retirement Operations Center, P.O. Box 45, Boyers, PA 16017.
CIA CIA Retirement and Disability System, Central Intelligence Agency, P.O. Box 1925, Washington, D.C. 20505.
Foreign Service Foreign Service Retirement and Disability System, Department of State, Retirement Division, Room 1251, Washington, D.C. 20520.
Any Other Retirement System The former spouse must obtain that retirement system's certification of his/her eligibility to a portion of the enrollee’s future annuity or a former spouse survivor annuity, and must submit the certificate to OPM when applying for eligibility to enroll.

Determining a Former Spouse's Eligibility

When a former spouse applies for eligibility to enroll under the Spouse Equity provisions, his/her employing office must first verify that the enrollee was employed by the agency at the time of the divorce. If the enrollee separates from Federal service before becoming eligible for an immediate annuity, his/her former spouse is eligible to enroll only if the marriage ended before the enrollee left Federal service.

The employing office must then determine if the former spouse is eligible to enroll. To be eligible, he/she must meet all of the following requirements:

  • He/she must not have remarried before age 55;
  • He/she must have been covered as a family member in an FEHB plan at least one day during the 18 months before the marriage ended;
  • He/she must provide documentation from OPM (or the CIA or Foreign Service retirement system, if applicable) of entitlement to a portion of the enrollee’s future annuity, or a former spouse survivor annuity.

If the enrollee worked for the CIA, his/her former spouse could qualify to enroll based on the enrollee’s CIA employment, if the marriage lasted for at least 10 years during the enrollee’s CIA service, at least 5 years of which both the enrollee and former spouse spent outside the United States, and the marriage ended before May 7, 1985.

If the enrollee worked for the Foreign Service, the former spouse could also qualify to enroll based on the enrollee’s Foreign Service employment if the marriage lasted for at least 10 years during the enrollee’s Government service, and the marriage ended before May 7, 1985.

When Both the Enrollee and the Former Spouse have FEHB Enrollments

If both the enrollee and his/her spouse have FEHB enrollments and divorce, it is important for each person to establish eligibility for FEHB coverage under Spouse Equity provisions within the required time frame. In this way, each person can protect his/her future entitlement to FEHB coverage under Spouse Equity provisions if he/she loses FEHB coverage. Each person must apply to his/her former spouse's employing office for the determination, not his/her own employing office.

If a person is enrolled as a Federal employee when his/her former spouse's employing office determines that he/she is eligible for coverage under Spouse Equity provisions, he/she must provide a copy of this determination to the current employing office. The enrollee’s current employing office must note on his/her Individual Retirement Record that he/she is eligible for FEHB coverage under Spouse Equity provisions. The former spouse's employing office must maintain a health benefits file for the enrollee and note that he/she is deferring enrollment under Spouse Equity provisions until he/she loses enrollment as an employee.

Employing Office Decision

If a former spouse is eligible for health benefits coverage, the employing office will provide the former spouse written confirmation of its decision, provide a premium payment schedule, and provide a certification form stating the requirements for continued enrollment. The former spouse will sign and date the certification form.

If the former spouse is not eligible for health benefits coverage, the employing office will notify him/her in writing and give the reason for the denial. The notice will also explain that he/she has a right to request that the employing office reconsider its decision.

Enrollment Procedures

If the former spouse didn't submit a Health Benefits Election Form (SF 2809) or other enrollment request as the application to enroll, he/she must complete one to enroll. He/she must put his/her own name, date of birth, and Social Security number on Part A of the SF 2809. The employee, former employee, or annuitant's name and date of birth must be entered in the Remarks section.

Certification

When a former spouse elects health benefits coverage under the Spouse Equity provisions, he/she must certify that he/she will notify the employing office within 31 days of an event that would terminate his/her eligibility. The employing office keeps the original certification in the health benefits file and gives the former spouse a copy.

Sample Certification

The employing office will require that the former spouse sign and date the following certification:

"I understand that I must notify the office maintaining my enrollment within 31 days after the occurrence of any of the following events that would end my eligibility for enrollment in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program:

(1) The court order ceases to provide my entitlement to a portion of a retirement annuity or a former spouse survivor annuity under a retirement system for Government employees.

(2) I remarry before age 55.

(3) The employee on whose service my benefits are based dies and no former spouse survivor annuity is payable.

(4) The separated employee on whose service my benefits are based dies before meeting the requirements for a deferred annuity.

(5) The employee on whose service my benefits are based leaves Federal service before establishing title to an immediate annuity or a deferred annuity.

(6) The retirement system pays a refund of retirement contributions to the separated employee on whose service my health benefits are based."

____________________________
(Signature)

____________________________
(Date)

Health Benefits File

The employing office must establish and maintain a health benefits file for the former spouse, even when it has denied eligibility for coverage.

Effective Date

The effective date of enrollment is the first day of the first pay period after the employing office receives the Health Benefits Election Form (SF 2809) and has approved eligibility.

If the former spouse requests immediate coverage, and the employing office receives the Health Benefits Election Form (SF 2809) and satisfactory proof of eligibility within 60 days after the date of the divorce, the enrollment may be made effective on the same day that temporary continuation of coverage would otherwise take effect.

Except as specified in this section, an enrollment change is effective on the first day of the first pay period beginning after the date the employing office receives the SF 2809.

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Opportunities to Enroll or Change Enrollment

Once the employing office determines that the former spouse is eligible, he/she may enroll at any time.

Belated Enrollment

When the employing office determines that the former spouse wasn’t able to enroll or change enrollment within the required time frame for reasons beyond his/her control, he/she may do so within 60 days after the employing office advises him/her of its determination.

Enrollment by Proxy

The employing office may permit the former spouse’s representative to enroll or change his/her enrollment with the former spouse’s written authorization.

Decrease Enrollment

A former spouse may decrease enrollment type at any time. A decreased enrollment type is effective on the first day of the first pay period beginning after the employing office receives the Health Benefits Election Form (SF 2809). Upon written request and with proof that there was no family member eligible for coverage, the employing office may make the change retroactive to the first day of the pay period following the one in which there were no remaining eligible family members.

Open Season

During Open Season, the former spouse may increase enrollment type, decrease enrollment type, change from one plan or option to another, or make any combination of these changes. With a Self Plus One or Self and Family enrollment, the only eligible family members are the natural or adopted children of the former spouse and the Federal employee or annuitant on whose service the former spouse’s coverage is based.

An Open Season reenrollment or change in enrollment is effective on the first day of the first pay period beginning in January of the following year. When the employing office accepts a belated Open Season reenrollment or change in enrollment, it takes effect on the date it normally would have been effective if it had been received on time.

Reenrollment after Enrollment in Medicare Managed Care or Medicaid

If the former spouse:

  • suspended his/her Spouse Equity enrollment to enroll in a Medicare managed care plan or Medicaid (or a similar State-sponsored program of medical assistance for the needy); and
  • later voluntarily disenrolled,

the former spouse may reenroll under the Spouse Equity provisions during Open Season provided he/she:

If the former spouse involuntarily loses this coverage, he/she can immediately reenroll.

Change in Family Status

A former spouse may increase his/her enrollment type, change from one plan or option to another, or make any combination of these changes from 31 days before to 60 days after the birth or acquisition of a natural or adopted child of the former spouse and the Federal employee or annuitant on whose service the former spouse’s coverage is based. The change to Self Plus One or Self and Family coverage is effective on the first day of the pay period in which the child is born or becomes an eligible family member.

Loss of Other FEHB Coverage or Coverage under Another Group Insurance Plan

The former spouse may increase his/her enrollment type, change from one plan or option to another, or make any combination of these changes when he/she or an eligible child loses other FEHB coverage or coverage under another group health benefits plan. Unless stated otherwise, the former spouse must change the enrollment from 31 days before to 60 days after the loss of coverage.

Examples of loss of coverage include:

  • Loss of coverage under another FEHB enrollment because the covering enrollment was terminated, canceled, or changed to Self Only.
  • Loss of coverage under another federally-sponsored health benefits program.
  • Loss of coverage because membership in an employee organization sponsoring or underwriting an FEHB plan was terminated.
  • Loss of coverage because an FEHB plan was discontinued in whole or in part.
    • If the discontinuation is at the end of the contract year, the former spouse must change the enrollment during the Open Season, unless OPM sets a different time frame.
    • If the discontinuation is at a time other than the end of the contract year, OPM will set the time and effective date for changing the enrollment.
    • If the whole plan is discontinued and the former spouse doesn’t change within the set time frame, he/she will be enrolled in the lowest-cost nationwide plan option as determined by OPM.
    • If one or more options of a plan are discontinued and the former spouse doesn’t change within the set time frame, he/she is considered to be enrolled in the lowest-cost remaining plan option that is not a high-deductible health plan (HDHP).
  • Loss of coverage under the Medicaid program (or similar State-sponsored program of medical assistance for the needy);
  • Loss of coverage under a non-Federal health plan.

Move from an HMO's Service Area

If a former spouse is enrolled in an HMO and moves or becomes employed outside the plan's service area (or, if already outside this area, moves or becomes employed further away), he/she may change the enrollment. If a covered family member moves outside the HMO's service area (or if already outside this area, moves further away), the former spouse may also change the enrollment. The enrollment change is effective on the first day of the pay period beginning after the employing office receives the Health Benefits Election Form (SF 2809) or other enrollment request.

On Becoming Eligible for Medicare

The former spouse may change enrollment from one plan or option to another at any time beginning 30 days before becoming eligible for Medicare coverage. An enrollment change based on becoming eligible for Medicare may be made only once.

Annuity Insufficient to Pay Withholdings

If the former spouse is receiving an annuity and it is insufficient to pay the premiums for his/her health plan, the retirement system will provide him/her with information on lower cost plans and will give him/her the opportunity to either:

  • pay premiums directly to the retirement system; or
  • enroll in a plan with a premium less than the annuity.

If the former spouse elects a lower-cost plan, the change is effective immediately upon loss of coverage in the prior plan.

If the former spouse is enrolled in the high option of a two-option plan, and doesn’t make one of the elections noted above, the enrollment will be changed to the standard option of the same plan (unless the annuity won't cover the cost of the standard option). If the former spouse is enrolled in a one-option plan, and doesn’t make one of the elections, coverage will be terminated.

Former Spouses with Other FEHB Coverage

If a former spouse is eligible for FEHB coverage, he/she may defer enrolling as a former spouse if he/she is already enrolled in FEHB.

When he/she loses regular coverage under FEHB, he/she may enroll as a former spouse from 31 days before to 60 days after the covering enrollment terminates, as long as he/she meets all the eligibility requirements. The former spouse may enroll in any available plan.

Losing Coverage as an Employee and Enrolling as a Former Spouse

When a former spouse’s enrollment as an employee terminates, his/her current employing office must terminate the enrollment on the Notice of Change in Health Benefits Enrollment (SF 2810) and note the time limits for enrolling as a former spouse with other FEHB coverage. The former spouse then must notify the employing office responsible for his/her Spouse Equity enrollment of his/her intent to enroll as a former spouse. That employing office will verify that he/she is still eligible under Spouse Equity provisions, and if so, enroll him/her based on his/her submission of a Health Benefits Election Form (SF 2809). The employing office will also give the former spouse a certification to sign and date.

The employing office responsible for the Spouse Equity enrollment will note on the SF 2809 that he/she was previously covered as an employee and is enrolling as a former spouse under the same Social Security number. Once Spouse Equity coverage begins, the former spouse must pay both the employee and Government shares of the premium.

If the employing office determines that the former spouse is no longer eligible to enroll under Spouse Equity, it will deny his/her enrollment, explain the right to request reconsideration, and place a copy of the request for enrollment and its denial in the former spouse’s health benefits file.

Losing Coverage as a Family Member and Becoming Eligible as a Former Spouse

If a former spouse is covered as a family member under a non-spouse’s FEHB enrollment when the former spouse is determined eligible for health benefits under Spouse Equity provisions, the employing office responsible for the Spouse Equity enrollment must note in the health benefits file that he/she is deferring the Spouse Equity enrollment until he/she loses coverage as a family member. When the former spouse loses the family member coverage and requests enrollment, that employing office will process the Spouse Equity enrollment.

Cancellation of a Former Spouse Enrollment

A former spouse may cancel Spouse Equity enrollment at any time. With one exception noted below, the cancellation is effective on the last day of the pay period in which the employing office receives the Health Benefits Election Form (SF 2809) cancelling the enrollment. The former spouse and his/her covered family members are not entitled to the 31-day extension of coverage and may not convert to a non-group contract when the enrollment is canceled. The former spouse may not reenroll, unless he/she suspended Spouse Equity enrollment to enroll in a Medicare managed care plan or Medicaid (or a similar State-sponsored program of medical assistance for the needy).

If the former spouse suspends his/her enrollment to enroll in a Medicare managed care plan, the suspension is effective on the day before coverage under the Medicare managed care plan takes effect. The former spouse must submit documentation of his/her new enrollment to the employing office from 31 days before to 31 days after the enrollment takes effect.

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Premium Payments

The former spouse must pay the employee and Government shares of the premium for every pay period he/she is enrolled. There is no Government contribution. The employing office must establish a premium payment schedule and is responsible for collecting the premiums.

Employing Office Submission of Premiums

The employing office submits premium payments collected from former spouses along with regular health benefits payments to OPM.

When the Former Spouse Does Not Pay the Premium

If the employing office doesn't receive a premium payment by the due date, it must notify the former spouse in writing that he/she must pay within 15 days (45 days if he/she lives overseas) after he/she receives the notice in order for the coverage to continue. The notice must state that if he/she doesn't make payment within this time frame, he/she is considered to have voluntarily canceled the enrollment.

If the former spouse doesn't make further payments, the employing office terminates the enrollment 60 days (90 days if he/she lives overseas) after the date of the notice.

The employing office's notice will ask if the former spouse has obtained other coverage as described below. It will explain in the notice that he/she may resume coverage under spouse equity provisions when this other coverage ends only if the former spouse informs the employing office of the other coverage now. It will place a copy of the notice and the former spouse’s response in his/her health benefits file.

The former spouse must inform the employing office if he/she obtains FEHB coverage as an employee or as a family member under another person's FEHB enrollment, or has coverage under a Medicare managed care plan or Medicaid (or a similar State-sponsored program of medical assistance for the needy). This notice will preserve the former spouse’s right to continue the Spouse Equity enrollment if he/she loses the other coverage.

Cancellation for Nonpayment of Premiums

If the coverage is canceled because the former spouse didn't pay premiums:

If the former spouse was unable to make timely payment for reasons beyond his/her control, he/she may write to the employing office to ask that coverage be reinstated. This request must be filed within 30 calendar days from the termination date and must provide proof that nonpayment was beyond his/her control. The employing office determines if he/she is eligible for reinstatement of coverage. If the employing office decides to allow reinstatement, it will be restored retroactively to the termination date upon receipt of the back premiums. If the employing office denies the reinstatement request, the former spouse may request that the employing office reconsider its initial decision.

Actions to Complete Cancellation for Nonpayment

If the former spouse does not make payment within the required time frame, the employing office must cancel the enrollment on the Health Benefits Election Form (SF 2809). In part G, which would normally show the former spouse's signature, enter "Canceled due to nonpayment of premium." Enter "N/A" in item 2 of part H and enter the effective date of the cancellation in item 3. The effective date of the cancellation is 60 days (90 days for enrollees residing overseas) after the date of the notice advising that continuation of coverage depends on premium payment within 15 days (45 days for enrollees residing overseas). If the former spouse never made a payment, enter the enrollment effective date and state in the Remarks section: "This cancellation voids the prior SF 2809 enrolling this individual in your plan on the date in item 3."

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Termination of a Former Spouse Enrollment

A Spouse Equity enrollment terminates, subject to the 31-day extension of coverage, at midnight of the last day of the pay period in which:

  • a qualifying court order ceases to provide entitlement to a portion of a retirement annuity or a former spouse survivor annuity under a retirement system for Government employees;
  • the former spouse remarries before age 55;
  • the former spouse dies;
  • the employee on whose service the benefits are based dies and no survivor annuity is payable;
  • the separated employee on whose service the benefits are based dies before meeting the requirements for a deferred annuity;
  • the employee on whose service the benefits are based leaves Federal service before establishing title to an immediate annuity or a deferred annuity; or
  • the retirement system pays a refund of retirement contributions to the separated employee on whose service the benefits are based.

The enrollments of certain former spouses of CIA and Foreign Service employees can only be terminated if the former spouse dies or remarries before reaching age 55.

The employing office must give the former spouse a copy of the Notice of Change in Health Benefits Enrollment (SF 2810) terminating his/her enrollment as soon as possible. This will allow the former spouse to convert to individual coverage within the 31-day time limit. The employing office must also advise him/her that when the enrollment terminates, he/she cannot later reenroll under the Spouse Equity Act. If the former spouse was enrolled in an employee organization plan and the enrollment terminates because the membership in the sponsoring employee organization terminates, the employing office will allow the former spouse to change to another plan.

Belated Extension of Coverage

When the former spouse belatedly learns that his/her enrollment under Spouse Equity has terminated because:

  • the employee on whose service the benefits were based separates from service with no future entitlement to annuity; or
  • the separated employee on whose service the benefits were based dies before becoming eligible for a deferred annuity;

the former spouse is allowed an extension of coverage of 31 days after the employing office's notice that coverage has terminated, during which he/she may convert to individual coverage.

The former spouse must pay the full premium during the extended period, except for the 31-day period following the notice.

Eligibility to Enroll under Temporary Continuation of Coverage

The former spouse is eligible to enroll under temporary continuation of coverage (TCC) when the Spouse Equity enrollment terminates during the first 36 months after the divorce or annulment because:

  • there is no longer a qualifying court order; or
  • the former spouse remarries before reaching age 55.

Termination of Eligible Child's Coverage

An eligible child's coverage under Spouse Equity enrollment terminates, subject to the 31-day extension of coverage and conversion rights, at midnight of:

  • the day the former spouse’s enrollment terminates.

The child is not eligible for TCC beyond the original 36-month period from the date of the divorce. If the former spouse cancels Spouse Equity enrollment, the child's enrollment also ends on the same date with no extension of coverage or conversion rights.

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Reenrollment

If a former spouse is enrolled under the Spouse Equity provisions and become covered under another FEHB enrollment (either as an employee or a family member), he/she may suspend the spouse equity enrollment while covered under the other enrollment. The former spouse may reenroll when the other FEHB coverage ends.

Eligibility as a Federal Employee after Enrollment as a Former Spouse

If a person is enrolled as a former spouse and then become eligible to enroll as a Federal employee, he/she must notify the employing office responsible for the Spouse Equity enrollment that he/she is enrolling as a Federal employee. This employing office will terminate the Spouse Equity enrollment on the Notice of Change in Health Benefits Enrollment (SF 2810), and note in the Remarks section that he/she remains entitled to enrollment as a former spouse. It will file the Official Personnel Folder (OPF) copy of the SF 2810 in the former spouse health benefits file and note that the spouse equity enrollment is being suspended while the former spouse is covered as a Federal employee.

The current employing office will enroll the former spouse as an employee on the Health Benefits Election Form (SF 2809). It must note in the Remarks section that he/she was previously covered as a former spouse and is now enrolling as an employee under the same Social Security number. When the health benefits coverage as an employee terminates, the former spouse and the employing offices involved should follow the procedures in "Losing Coverage as an Employee and Enrolling as a Former Spouse."

Eligibility as a Covered Family Member after Enrollment as a Former Spouse

If a former spouse is enrolled under the Spouse Equity provisions and becomes covered as a family member under another person's FEHB enrollment, the employing office responsible for the Spouse Equity enrollment will terminate it on the Notice of Change in Health Benefits Enrollment (SF 2810). It will note in the Remarks section that the enrollment is being terminated because the former spouse is now covered as a family member under another FEHB enrollment, and give the enrollee's name, Social Security number, and the effective date of coverage. The Spouse Equity enrollment is suspended until the former spouse loses coverage as a family member. When he/she loses family member coverage and request reinstatement, the employing office that was previously responsible for the Spouse Equity enrollment will again be responsible for the enrollment.

When Coverage under Medicare Managed Care Plan or Medicaid Ends

If a former spouse postponed enrolling or suspended his/her Spouse Equity enrollment to enroll in a Medicare managed care plan or Medicaid (or a similar State-sponsored program of medical assistance for the needy), he/she may later reenroll under the Spouse Equity provisions if enrollment in the Medicare managed care plan or Medicaid ends and he/she still qualifies for a Spouse Equity enrollment. The former spouse must have informed the employing office of the Medicare managed care plan or Medicaid enrollment when he/she postponed or suspended his/her spouse equity enrollment.

If the Medicare managed care plan or Medicaid enrollment ends involuntarily, the former spouse can immediately reenroll under the Spouse Equity provisions in any available plan at any time from 31 days before to 60 days after coverage in the Medicare managed care plan or Medicaid ends. The reenrollment is effective on the date following the involuntary loss of coverage as shown in documentation from the Medicare managed care plan or Medicaid.

If the former spouse voluntarily disenrolls from the Medicare managed care plan or Medicaid, he/she may reenroll under the Spouse Equity provisions during the following Open Season.

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Health Benefits File

The employing office must establish and maintain a health benefits file for the former spouse, even when he/she was denied eligibility for coverage. The file must be set up in the former spouse's name and must be separate from the employee's OPF. The front cover of the file will show the name and date of birth of the employee on whose service the Spouse Equity benefits are based.

Disclosure of the contents of the health benefits file must be consistent with OPM regulations concerning access to the OPM/CENTRAL-1, Civil Service Retirement and Insurance Records, system of records under the Privacy Act of 1974 [5 CFR, part 297]. The System Manager for this system of records is: Associate Director of Retirement and Insurance, Office of Personnel Management, 1900 E Street, NW., Washington, DC 20415.

File Contents

The employing office must keep the following documents in the former spouse's health benefits file:

  • documentation that the former spouse applied in writing or in person (this may be a brief statement signed by the former spouse, with the receipt date noted by the employing office) within the 60-day time limit;
  • a copy (provided by the former spouse) of the court order used by the retirement system to determine eligibility;
  • a copy of the retirement system's written notification verifying that the court order is acceptable;
  • the employing office's letter approving or denying eligibility for health benefits coverage along with the documents it used to make its decision;
  • the OPF copies of the Health Benefits Election Form (SF 2809) or other enrollment request for enrollment documenting the former spouse's enrollment, enrollment changes, or cancellation;
  • the former spouse's certification that he/she will notify the employing office within 31 days of an event that terminates eligibility;
  • the notice of premium amount and payment schedule;
  • the OPF copy of the Notice of Change in Health Benefits Enrollment (SF 2810) terminating the enrollment;
  • the employing office's copy of the letter transferring the enrollment to the retirement system; and
  • any other correspondence regarding eligibility or enrollment, such as a letter requesting payment of overdue premium prior to terminating coverage; documentation of a child's disability existing before age 26; a court order terminating entitlement to a portion of a retirement annuity or a former spouse survivor annuity; a letter from the former spouse canceling enrollment; or a retirement system notice that a refund has been paid to the former employee or that he/she has died and no survivor annuity is payable.

File Disposition

The employing office must keep the former spouse's health benefits file for as long as the office maintains his/her Spouse Equity enrollment. If he/she becomes a Federal employee eligible for an employee enrollment, his/her current employing office maintains the enrollment as an employee, and the employing office maintaining the Spouse Equity enrollment will continue to maintain the inactive enrollment.

If the former spouse did not qualify for coverage under the Spouse Equity provisions, the employing office must keep the file containing the records for at least one year from the date of notice stating that he/she did not qualify. The office may then either destroy the file contents or return it to the former spouse.

Transfer to Retirement System

The employing office will transfer the former spouse's health benefits file to the appropriate retirement system when:

  • the former spouse cancels the enrollment;
  • the employing office terminates his/her enrollment; or
  • he/she begins receiving an annuity payment (a portion of the employee's retirement annuity or a former spouse survivor annuity). At that time the retirement system begins to withhold premiums from the annuity check and becomes the former spouse's employing office.

The employing office will send the former spouse's health benefits file to the applicable retirement system address shown below:

Retirement SystemAddress
Civil Service Retirement System Office of Personnel Management, Retirement Operations Center, P.O. Box 45, Boyers, PA 16017.
Federal Employees Retirement System Federal Employees Retirement System, P.O. Box 200, Boyers, PA 16017
Foreign Service Retirement and Disability System Department of State, Retirement Division, Room 1251, Washington, DC 20520
CIA Retirement and Disability System Central Intelligence Agency, P.O. Box 1925, Washington, DC 20505

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Notice to Retirement System of Former Spouse Enrollment

When the employee on whose service Spouse Equity benefits are based separates, transfers, or retires, the employing office must document on his/her Individual Retirement Record (SF 2806 or 3100) that a Spouse Equity enrollment exists. Include on the employee's Individual Retirement Record the former spouse's name, date of birth, Social Security number, and the name and address of the office maintaining the health benefits file.

If the Individual Retirement Record has already been forwarded to the retirement system, use a retirement record supplement (such as the SF 2806-1 or SF 3101) to notify the retirement system of the Spouse Equity enrollment, cancellation, or termination of enrollment.

Retirement System Notice to Employing Office

If the employee's retirement record shows that a former spouse is eligible for health benefits coverage under Spouse Equity, the retirement system will notify the employing office when a lump-sum benefit or annuity becomes payable.

If a refund is being paid to the former employee, and/or when no survivor annuity is payable to the former spouse, the employing office will terminate the former spouse's enrollment and forward the health benefits file to the retirement system. The file must note the former employee's name and date of birth.

If any annuity benefit is payable to the former spouse, the employing office will forward the health benefits file to the retirement system. Note the date through which premiums have been paid so the retirement system can know the effective date of the transfer of enrollment and when to begin withholding premiums.

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