The Importance of FEGLI (Life Insurance) in Retirement Planning


In this article, we will be discussing the topic of maximizing retirement benefits, specifically focusing on the Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program. We will address common questions and concerns regarding FEGLI coverage, including the cost, eligibility, and the importance of life insurance in retirement planning. We will 

also touch on the option to reduce or cancel FEGLI coverage and explore alternative life insurance options for federal employees. It is important to understand that FEGLI is primarily meant to give you life insurance coverage while you are working. While there are options to keep all of it into retirement, there is no cost-effective way to keep any considerable amount after your employment ends. So, let's dive in and explore the world of FEGLI and retirement benefits!

Setting Up a Consultation

Before we get into the details, let's address a couple of administrative points. If you're interested in setting up a call with us to discuss your specific situation, you may be wondering about the cost. Rest assured, there is no cost for our consultation services for Federal Employees. We do not charge you for our time, whether you become a client or not. Our compensation comes from the financial institutions, insurance companies, or legal institutions that provide us with the services we recommend. So, don't let the fear of cost be a hesitation in moving forward with a consultation.

Understanding the Need for Life Insurance

Now, let's address a common question raised by Debbie, a Federal Employee, during one of our live trainings. As a single, independent individual with no children, she wonders why she would need a life insurance policy. It's important to remember that life insurance is a personal decision and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. However, there are a few factors to consider.

Firstly, if you have any debts, such as a mortgage or car loans, a life insurance policy can help eliminate those debts so that no one else has to worry about them. Additionally, if you have dependents or beneficiaries who rely on your income, a life insurance policy can provide financial support for them in the event of your passing. This includes elderly family members.

However, if you don't have any debts and no one depends on your income, then a life insurance policy may not be a necessity for you. It's important to assess your individual circumstances and make a decision based on your specific needs.

Changes to FEGLI Coverage

Your main opportunity to sign up for FEGLI is at the time you are hired. While there are FEGLI open seasons, there is no prescribed frequency of these and there is currently not any scheduled. The other way you will have an opportunity to increase FEGLI coverage is in the case of a qualifying life event, such as the birth or adoption of a child or getting married. You can reduce or cancel FEGLI at any time. 

Understanding Basic FEGLI

Basic FEGLI is determined by your salary. So this insurance amount changes most years. The equation that they use is taking your adjusted basic pay, rounding it up to the next thousand and adding $2,000 more. Example: $100,256 salary would equal $103,000 in basic FEGLI coverage. While you work it is very affordable and you can keep 25% at no cost in retirement when 65 or older. But, to try to keep any more than the free amount becomes very expensive. 

Option A

Option A is a flat $10,000 additional policy. The cost on this does increase as you get older, but caps out at $6 per paycheck at age 60. You are allowed to keep 25% of this policy at no charge when retired and 65 or older. 

Option B

Option B allows federal employees to carry up to 5 additional multiples of their salary in the form of life insurance. To determine the amount of the multiples, simply round the adjusted basic pay up to the next thousand. So our example from before would be $100,256 equals $101,000 per multiple, up to 5 times. This is priced very well when employees are younger, but it increases in cost every 5 years. 

The increases are very small and mostly not noticeable until someone gets into their late 50’s and beyond. Then it starts to have large increases and more than doubles in cost at some ages. The earlier you understand this, the better you can adjust for it. If life insurance is going to be something you use for estate planning later in life and into retirement, you will want to secure individual, private sector life insurance when you are young enough and healthy enough to get really good rates. 

The problem is that most federal employees don’t start to think about this until the cost doubles on their Option B overnight or when they get close to retiring and start to pay attention to this kind of thing. Then the cost of individual policies are going to be higher and harder to secure because of their age, and possibly not even qualify due to previous or existing health conditions. When you retire, you can choose to keep any and all of your Option B multiples, but be ready for some really expensive deductions if you do. 

Option C

Option C provides family life insurance. It can cover spouses and dependents that are younger than 22. You can have up to 5 multiples. Each multiple will provide $5,000 for a spouse and $2,500 for a dependent. If you have all 5 multiples then you would have $25,000 in coverage for the spouse and $12,500 for dependents. 

With option C, the federal employee will be the beneficiary if the spouse or a dependent passes away. Option C is pretty affordable. It does increase in price every 5 years but does not have any major price hikes and remains pretty competitive in its pricing as compared to private sector final expense policies. You can keep any and all multiples into retirement or cancel them. 

Considering Private Insurance

There are 2 main types of Private Sector life insurance. Term and Whole life. Term insurance is the most affordable coverage you can get. It is meant to give you low-cost coverage for a period of time (10, 15, 20 years, etc). The goal with Term is to grow out of needing it before the term ends. Some examples would be to pay off the mortgage before the end of the term or have finished putting the kids through college, or even have saved enough assets to no longer need it. 

Whole life is meant to be permanent coverage for your entire life. The cost will be higher on these types of plans but there isn’t an end date of coverage like term. Whole life insurance can also be used as a savings vehicle and build cash value. There are very sophisticated strategies to use whole life to grow tax-advantaged assets. 

If you are looking at replacing FEGLI coverage with private sector coverage, it is vitally important to make sure your new policy is in force BEFORE you cancel or reduce your FEGLI for 2 reasons. 1: you don’t want to leave any period of time where you are not covered. 2: once you cancel or reduce your coverage with FEGLI, you’re probably never getting it back. 


In conclusion, understanding and maximizing retirement benefits, such as the Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program, is crucial for federal employees. While there are limitations to enrolling in or making changes to FEGLI coverage, it's important to explore your options and consider your individual circumstances. 

Life insurance is a personal decision, and it's essential to assess your needs and consult with a financial representative to make informed choices. Remember, our consultation services are free, and we are here to provide education and guidance throughout your retirement planning journey. Life insurance plays a crucial role in an overall financial plan. It provides financial protection for your loved ones and helps eliminate any outstanding debts you may have after you are gone.

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