One of the many advantages of being a federal employee is the access to supplemental dental and vision benefits. Many federal employees are familiar with the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) and the rules required to carry FEHB into retirement; however, you may not be as familiar with the requirements to carry dental and vision coverage into retirement. It’s important to note that Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) is a separate program from FEHB. Here are some of the FEDVIP basics.
Open Season and Enrollment
Open season to enroll in dental or vision coverage is in November and December. If you are a newly eligible employee, you can enroll in your first 60 days. Also, if you have what OPM calls a “qualifying life event”—such as a marriage—you are open to enroll in dental and/or vision coverage. Not just employees, but also retirees and eligible family members, your spouse or unmarried dependent children under the age of twenty-two, can enroll in FEDVIP. Federal employees must be eligible for FEHB to enroll in FEDVIP, but do not have to actually be enrolled in FEHB. Self Only, Self Plus One, and Self and Family coverages are available.
While working, FEDVIP premiums are payed with pre-tax dollars; however, in retirement premiums will be payed with after-tax dollars. Dental and vision costs are similar but are not quite the same. Dental premiums are based on where you live and your desired plan. To find out the cost of dental coverage, you will need to see OPM’s dental rating region chart. On the left column, you will need to find the state where you live and across the top, find the plan you are interested in. Once you have determined your rating area, you will use that number and OPM’s dental premium rate chart to determine the cost of the plan you are interested in.
Vision premiums are not based on where you live and are simply dependent on the plan you choose. For a list of the vision plans and current rates, see OPM’s vision premium rate charts.
Carrying FEDVIP in Retirement
If you plan to carry dental or vision coverage in retirement, there are several important nuances to make note of. As mentioned earlier, FEDVIP is a different program from FEHB, which means enrollment in FEDVIP for five years prior to retirement, does not count as enrollment in FEHB. Unlike FEHB, FEDVIP does not require you to be enrolled in the program for five years prior to retirement. You can even enroll in a vision or dental plan in retirement if you need to.
To be eligible for FEDVIP in retirement you must retire on an immediate annuity. If you are receiving a deferred annuity you will not be eligible for retaining your dental and/or vision coverage. If you retire under Minimum Retirement Age+ 10 with a postponed annuity, you will be able to retain FEDVIP in retirement.