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Learn more about health benefits and retirement

FAQs and answers about health benefits coverage and federal retirement.

Questions and answers

Yes. After you retire, you will still have the opportunity to change your enrollment from one plan to another during an annual open season. You cannot change to another plan simply because you retired. Each year, Open Season runs from the Monday of the second full workweek in November through the Monday of the second full workweek in December. The 2021 Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Open Season will run from November 8 through December 13, 2021.

Yes, you can keep your existing health benefits coverage if you meet all of the following conditions:

  • You're enrolled in health care insurance under a federal plan when you retire
  • You must have been continuously covered by a Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) program, TRICARE, or Civilian Health and Medical Program for Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS) plan for 5 years immediately before retiring; during all of your federal employment since your first opportunity to enroll; or continuously for full periods of service beginning with the enrollment that started before January 1, 1965, and ending with the date on which you become an annuitant, whichever is shortest.
  • Your annuity payments start within 30 days

If you're retiring under the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) plus 10 provision of FERS, health care and life insurance coverage are suspended until your annuity starts, even if it is postponed.

Yes. OPM has the authority to waive the 5-year participation requirement when it's against equity and good conscience not to allow an individual to participate in the health care insurance program as a retiree. However, the law says that a person's failure to meet the 5-year requirement must be due to exceptional circumstances. When someone is retiring voluntarily, a waiver may not be appropriate because he or she can continue working until the requirement is met. When circumstances under these conditions otherwise warrant a waiver, we will notify the individual's employer.

Your family enrollment covers yourself, your current spouse, your eligible children who are under the age of 26, and other eligible dependents.

Your Official Personnel Folder should contain everything OPM needs, including a record of all of your health care benefits registration forms (SF-2809 and/or SF-2810). When you retire, you should make sure your records show a complete history of your health care insurance enrollment for the last 5 years.

You can pay your premiums directly to OPM. You shouldn't send any payments until we contact you with instructions on how to pay your premiums to OPM.

You should contact the Social Security Administration at least 3 months before your 65th birthday to apply for benefits. The Social Security Administration will have records pertaining to your eligibility for Medicare coverage. If they don't, and you or your employer need to get a statement of your earnings to apply for coverage, then you should write to:

General Services Administration National Personnel Records Center Civilian Personnel Records 111 Winnebago Street St. Louis, Missouri 63118

You should provide the following information in your request:

  • Your name, as shown on your payroll records
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Mailing address
  • Years for which earnings are needed
  • Name and location of employer for each year
  • Reason for the request
  • A statement that all other sources of information have been exhausted
  • Your written signature

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