Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

Separating fact from fiction in the federal retirement world.

By now, all of us have come into contact with false information, especially when it’s spread via social media. Sometimes, this happens in the federal retirement world.

A client recently wrote to me in a panic because she had read that if she retired under the postponed MRA+10 retirement provisions of the Federal Employees Retirement System, she wouldn’t be eligible to continue her health insurance. This is simply not true. The article she had read was written by a financial adviser who was most likely sincerely trying to be helpful. However, he may not have understood that under FERS rules, a “postponed” retirement actually is considered an “immediate” retirement.

On the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Health Benefits Program website, there’s a Frequently Asked Questions section that includes the following language:

As long as the following conditions are met, you may continue your FEHB coverage into retirement:

  • You must have retired on an immediate annuity (that is, an annuity which begins to accrue no later than one month after the date of your final separation); and
  • You must have been continuously enrolled (or covered as a family member) in any FEHB Program plan (not necessarily the same plan) for the five years of service immediately preceding retirement, or if less than five years, for all service since your first opportunity to enroll.

That sounds like you can’t postpone your retirement if you want to keep your health insurance. But if you dig a little deeper and read the FEHBP Handbook, you’ll find the following clarification:

If you are a separating employee covered under FERS and you qualify for an immediate annuity under the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA)+10 provision, you can continue your enrollment when your annuity starts, as long as you meet the requirements for continuing coverage.

If you postpone receipt of your annuity, your enrollment will terminate when you separate from your employment. You will be eligible for temporary continuation of coverage (TCC) or to convert to an individual contract. You may choose to resume FEHB coverage on the date you select for your annuity to begin.

So, a postponed annuity is considered an immediate annuity if you were eligible to receive it immediately after your separation from federal service—even if you chose to postpone receiving it. That makes sense—sort of. No wonder there’s confusion about this provision.

Here are two other things to remember about separating truth from fiction regarding your benefits:

  • It’s not always easy to check the facts regarding federal benefits. Sometimes it requires in-depth research.
  • When doing your research, make sure that the source of the information is valid or that the author is a subject matter expert with a long history of experience. General financial planners do not always have specific knowledge of federal retirement benefits.

This is why I encourage questions at the seminars and webinars that I present. I love the challenge of answering questions and I never hesitate to say when I don’t know the answer.

Here are some tips to help make sure you’re getting accurate information about your federal retirement.

  • Go to the agency that administers a particular benefit. For federal retirement benefits, that’s the Office of Personnel Management. For Social Security, it’s the Social Security Administration. Although you enroll in Medicare through SSA, you can find answers to most questions on the Medicare website.
  • Your agency can usually provide answers to specific questions about your individual retirement benefit.
  • Be careful when using outside resources. Make sure the information you’re getting is accurate and applies to your situation.

My motto has always been the the one coined by Sy Syms, the retailer and broadcaster:  “An educated consumer is our best customer.” The more you understand your retirement situation, the more confidence you’ll have in the decisions you make.

Photo:  Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.