Federal employees are not immune to cost increases.
Across the country, Americans are getting bad news about (another) steep rise in their health insurance premiums for 2017. This is true for most federal workers too. The government announced last month that federal health plans will rise 6.2 percent. That is an average, which means some receiving medical care through the Federal Employee Health Benefits program (FEHB) will see double-digit increases in premiums, deductibles and/or co-pays, depending on the specific federal agency and the coverage tier they have chosen.
This news is likewise troubling for federal workers who will be retiring soon, through voluntary retirement, forced retirement or disability retirement. Health care considerations may be a key factor in deciding if and when to retire, and whether to continue FEHB coverage. This is particularly true if you are seeking early retirement from federal service due to ongoing health problems.
Federal personnel commonly encounter barriers when they put in for retirement. They may be informed by the employer agency or the Office of Personnel Management that they are not sufficiently disabled to retire early or otherwise not eligible for retirement or full pension. Some employees are told they do not meet the five years of continuous service or other criteria to qualify for continued FEHB medical benefits. There may be complications with receiving or pursuing Social Security Disability in conjunction with federal employment retirement.
What if you encounter problems or pushbackregarding retirement from federal service?
Denial of retirement eligibility or denial of FEHB benefits can be appealed, but the process is cumbersome and adversarial. A proactive approach is always better. An attorney who concentrates in federal employment law can assist in assembling a solid application for retirement and anticipating potential problems. If the case does escalate to contested proceedings, you and your lawyer will be better positioned to justify your case and secure your retirement, health care and disability entitlements.
Passman & Kaplan serves federal employees in the D.C. area and nationwide. We have represented members of all branches of federal government, including advocating for federal retirees in OPM disputes and Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) appeals.