Feds get first open season since 2004

Unless you are getting younger and healthier every year, Senior Correspondent Mike Causey says September is a magic month for members of the federal family.

So where were you, and who were you, in 2004?

Odds are your hair was longer (and thicker). And your waist thinner. Twelve years ago the Democrats nominated Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to take on incumbent President George W. Bush.

Several big hurricanes slammed Florida and a Pacific tsunami killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Lance Armstrong won his sixth Tour de France and Martha Stewart was sentenced to prison, the Boston Red Sox won their first world series since 1918 and The Aviator (about eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes) was the top Hollywood film.

Terrorist attacks in Spain forced that country to withdraw its troops from Iraq. John Muhammad, the infamous D.C. Sniper, was found guilty of murder. Facebook was launched as a limited social networking site open only to students at Harvard. The U.S. government announced an open season enrollment period for its FEGLI, its group term life insurance program.

The last item, about the FEGLI open season, won’t interest the average American. But if you are a federal or postal worker, it is a very big deal and a milestone. That’s because 2004 was the last time Uncle Sam had an open enrollment period — when just about anybody on the payroll could sign up — until now.

Right now, 12 years later, until the end of this month to sign up for FEGLI and be almost guaranteed they will be covered. And those who have FEGLI coverage at least FIVE YEARS before they retire can take it with them into retirement.

Benefits expert John Grobe says that all feds (and eligible retirees) should evaluate their life insurance needs. At 2o or 30 an unmarried man or woman without children might not need life insurance. Or not much. But once a spouse, kids, cars and mortgages come into the picture things change. People need to decide what kind of financial gap they will leave when they die. Especially while the family is young and most financially vulnerable. And you’re not bringing in a paycheck every two weeks.

Grobe says this is the perfect time for feds, regardless of age or health, to get into the FEGLI program. During this month’s rare open season virtually anyone who works for the government can get coverage without answering lots of medical questions. If you are older or in bad health this is the time to act. It is also the perfect time to get coverage that will permit you (under the 5-year rule) to continue FEGLI when you retire.

So what if you are young, very healthy or both.? If you can ace the medical underwriter questions, Grobe suggests you check out one of the alternate plans, like WAEPA, that offer term life insurance to federal and postal workers. Grobe says younger and very healthy feds can get the same coverage offered by FEGLI but as much lower rates.

Bottom line: This is one open season that feds should welcome, not dread. Check out your insurance coverage and your insurability. If you make the right moves you can keep FEGLI (at its group rates) when you retire. And you can easily sign up now. Grobe was our Your Turn radio show guest earlier this week. He talked at length about long term care insurance, and FEGLI. To listen, or refer the show to a friend or coworker, click here.

And remember, the clock is ticking on this one. It could be another 12 years until there is another FEGLI open season. Miss this one and you may miss out entirely.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Jory Heckman

Bowling was invented around 300 A.D. as a religious ritual in which participants would roll stones at clubs to absolve their sins. By 1336, the sport became so popular that King Edward III of England had to ban it to keep his troops focused on archery practice.

Source: Priceonomics

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