With federal employment, the benefits you receive can be a fantastic motive to keep working hard and progressing up the ladder. However, things in life change, and your personal circumstances might change with them, so today we want to assess exactly what happens to your federal retirement benefits if you get an annulment, divorce, or go through a separation.
FEHB Benefits In Divorce
Before the End of Marriage – If you’re separated and haven’t yet finalized the annulment or divorce, your ex-partner is eligible to continue their FEHB coverage as long as you’re under the self plus one or self and family policy.
After the End of Marriage – Once the divorce or annulment has been finalized, your ex-partner’s coverage will end at midnight of the same day; even if a court order previously installed the coverage. This being said, they will have three options if they want to continue their health coverage;
Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC)
Spouse Equity Act
Choosing to continue with an individual policy with the same FEHB carrier
In terms of your own coverage, this will remain largely the same except your policy will change to ‘self-only’; of course, this could differ if a court order requires you to keep coverage in place for one or more children. Furthermore, you can even decide to change to a different plan if it better suits your goals moving forward. If you want to keep your children on the plan, the self and family option will still be available to you in addition to the self plus one (if there’s only one family member to cover).
To get started with any changes you wish to make, you first need to file a Standard Form 2809 with your agency personnel within 60 days of your divorce or annulment. If you’ve already retired, you can return the form to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM); this form can be found on the appropriately-named forms section of the OPM website.
FEGLI & Other Benefits in Divorce
The Beneficiary and FEGLI – With your Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program, you will have appointed a beneficiary at the very beginning, and this determines who would receive the benefit if you were to pass away. You may want to make adjustments to your FEGLI after divorce, and this can be achieved by filling out a Standard Form 2823; again, this can be found on the OPM website.
When making this change, you will need to adhere to any court orders; for instance, it might suggest that your former partner needs to stay as the beneficiary on any policies you have.
Survivor Annuity – When in marriage, the law requires you to set up a survivor annuity for your partner, but this responsibility comes to an end with the marriage itself. However, you should still inform the appropriate bodies of your change in relationship status to avoid confusion and mistakes; this includes the OPM or your agency.
Federal Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) – Similar to FEHB coverage, your vision, and dental cover can also be decreased to self-only. After your divorce, you’ll want to make this change as soon as possible (within 60 days) because otherwise you’ll have to wait for the next annual benefits open season; in the meantime, your premiums will remain at the higher rate. Unlike FEHB coverage, there are no options for your former spouse and no FEDVIP coverage will be available for them. When making changes, ensure all the details are filled out carefully, so they remain correct for the next period of your life.
Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program – As long as you continue paying the premiums each period, your Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program will remain in place. Unfortunately, your ex-partner cannot be installed into the program if they weren’t already involved at the time of the divorce or annulment. If their name was on the program, this will continue as normal.
Flexible Spending Accounts – When you go through a divorce or annulment, this event will trigger an open period for you to make adjustments to your flexible spending accounts.
Thrift Savings Plan – Finally, the event will also trigger an award from a TSP account to any other account, which means funds can be transferred to a partner or ex-partner.
There you have it! All the changes you can be expected after separation, divorce, or annulment. If you need help or more information, feel free to research online or ask a professional.
About June Kirby
June Kirby has almost two decades of experience serving as a federal employee retirement trainer, strategy specialist, and advocate. Based on her extensive knowledge, she offers consultation on a host of federal retirement benefits and TSP maximization strategies. Ms. Kirby tirelessly travels the country to make herself available to hundreds of deserving, yet under-served federal and postal employees, federal agencies, unions, and organizations.
Simply Secure Financial and June Kirby are not affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. Government, any governmental agency, or any federal benefits programs discussed herein. Your personal specialist at Simply Secure Financial may offer insurance services, and as such, is a licensed insurance professional with training and experience in federal employee benefits.