Life Happens: Effects of Marriage on Your Benefits – FEDweek

Life Happens: Effects of Marriage on Your Benefits – FEDweek

Reg Jones

We’re now past the late in the calendar year period when there is a higher amount of activity regarding federal employee benefits than usual.

The end of year rush to retirement is over and the paperwork of those who elected to leave is—however slowly—being processed. Also, the annual benefits open season ended in early December; changes made during that time in the FEHB health insurance and FEDVIP vision-dental insurance programs—or decisions to make no changes—are now in effect.

However, life happens. Some of what the government “life events” offer you options for your benefits regardless of whether you are an active employee or a retiree, and regardless of when they occur. And in some cases you’ll have to act quickly or else an opportunity will be missed.

With that in mind, starting this week we’ll look at four such events: marriage, the birth of a child, divorce or death. This time, I’ll focus on marriage.

Health insurance
On marriage, you can change your Federal Employees Health Benefits enrollment category if already enrolled. For example, you can change from self only to self plus one to cover your spouse or a dependent child, or self and family if you need to cover more than one eligible family member. If not already enrolled, you may newly enroll.

These changes can be made between 31 days before to 60 days after a marriage; otherwise you’d have to wait until the next open season annually from early November through early December. Instructions are at

Other insurance
If you are enrolled in the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance program (FEGLI) you can increase coverage upon marriage or if not enrolled, may newly enroll and choose among the options. In particular, you might want to elect coverage on your spouse (and any children) under the Option C family coverage option. This must be done within 60 days or else the opportunity is missed; the FEGLI program has only rare open seasons. The form is at

Also, if you have a FEGLI designation of beneficiary form on file, you may want to change that designation. For example, as a single person you might have designated your parents; that will remain in effect unless you change it. If you have not filed such a form, your spouse becomes the beneficiary by default under a standard order of precedence. You make a beneficiary change by submitting a new a Standard Form 2823, found at

You also may newly enroll, or add your spouse and any children to an existing enrollment, under the Federal Dental and Vision Insurance Program, which you do through the Benefeds portal at

Further, on marriage your spouse becomes entitled to apply to enroll—whether or not you are enrolled—in the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program. If your spouse does this within 60 days, only a shortened form of underwriting applies; if after, full underwriting applies. Application for this program is made through