Federal Benefits For Surviving Children

Federal Benefits For Surviving Children

When it comes to the Federal Employees Health Benefits program (FEHB), and the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI), one of the most frequently asked questions is how these benefits work for surviving children.

Though it’s important to review the OPM website for details, here’s a basic overview of what happens with both plans when a federal employee passes away.   


For employees or retirees covered by FEGLI, insurance proceeds are paid according to the Designation of Beneficiary form originally submitted to the OPM. In the absence of a designated beneficiary, the standard order of precedence is:

  • The surviving spouse will be paid the life insurance proceeds
  • If there isn’t a surviving spouse, proceeds go to a surviving child or children

To avoid other issues arising after an unexpected death, it’s wise for federal employees to complete and submit their Designation of Beneficiary Form 2823 and consider updating it in the event of a divorce or other life events. 


When a federal worker enrolled in the FEHB passes away, and they’ve had coverage other than “self only,” all survivors who meet the definition of “family member” will automatically be able to continue FEHB coverage as long as one of them receives a survivor annuity.

In the event that there’s only one survivor annuitant, and no other family member qualifies as eligible for continued coverage, the survivor may do well to change their enrollment to “self only” because premiums are lower.  

Keep in mind -- a child under age 26 can be eligible for FEHB coverage even if they’re married. However, the coverage will not be extended to their spouse or children.

What happens to a child’s FEHB coverage when there’s no surviving parent? 

In this scenario, the child’s FEHB coverage usually ends when their survivor annuity ends. A surviving child’s annuity usually ends at age 18 or, if attending college, at age 22. 

However, the child may have the option to convert to an individual policy or apply for temporary continuation of coverage for up to 36 months. Of course, since the government will no longer be paying part of the FEHB premium, they will have pay the full cost.