HR: Benefits: Federal Employees
Life Insurance
 Eligibility Requirements

All Federal employees are eligible except those serving under temporary appointments, or those working on an intermittent basis.

NEW! On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. As a result of this decision, the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will now be able to extend benefits to Federal employees and annuitants who have legally married a spouse of the same sex.

All legally married same-sex spouses and children of legal same-sex marriages are now eligible family members under the FEGLI Program, which means that employees may add coverage for a same-sex spouse and any newly eligible children under Option C. Employees will have 60 days from June 26, 2013 until August 26, 2013, to make changes to their FEGLI enrollment.


Coverage and Cost

Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) is a term life insurance program. You can name a beneficiary, but your insurance accrues no cash or loan value. There are two components of the FEGLI life insurance program, described below:

1) Basic Coverage - You are automatically covered and must pay biweekly premiums for Basic coverage, unless you choose to waive the coverage. The amount of Basic coverage is your annual base salary rounded up to the next thousand, plus $2,000, or a total of $10,000, whichever is greater. The coverage and cost will increase as your salary increases. You pay for approximately two-thirds of the Basic premium ($0.155 per $1000 per pay period); Smithsonian pays the remaining one-third.

There is an extra benefit for employees under age 36 that doubles the Basic life insurance benefit. Beginning on your 36th birthday, the extra benefit decreases 10% each year until you reach age 45 when there is no longer an extra benefit payable. The extra benefit for employees under age 45 is provided without additional cost.

The Living Benefit Option authorizes a one time payment of the Basic life insurance benefit to terminally ill Federal employees with a life expectancy of nine months or less. Employees can elect the amount of their Basic life insurance payout in multiples of $1,000. If the employee chooses to take less than the full Basic life amount, the remainder will go to the designated beneficiary upon the employee's death.

The Assignment of Benefits Option is available, which allows all Federal employees to make an irrevocable assignment of their government life insurance coverage to any person, firm or trust. This option is useful as a financial planning tool. Enrollees must assign their Basic life coverage, as well as Options A and B (see below) if any. Option C is not assignable.

2) Optional Coverage - In addition to Basic coverage, you may purchase additional amounts of life insurance referred to as Optional coverage. You pay the full cost for Optional insurance. You must be enrolled in Basic coverage in order to elect Optional insurance. The cost of Optional insurance depends on the option(s) selected, described below:

  • Option A - Standard provides additional life insurance coverage in the amount of $10,000 which includes $10,000 additional Accidental Death and Dismemberment coverage.
  • Option B - Additional provides benefits in an amount of your choice equal to one, two, three, four, or five times your annual base salary (rounded to the next thousand dollars).
  • Option C - Family provides a death benefit covering family members in multiples (one, two, three, four or five times) of $5,000 for your spouse and $2,500 for each dependent child.



The Life Insurance Election, SF-2817, may be used either to waive Basic coverage or to elect Basic plus Optional coverage. Your request for Basic plus Optional insurance must be received in SAO Benefits Office within 31 days of your appointment or eligibility date. Otherwise, you will have to meet certain health requirements in order to purchase insurance at a later date.

A Designation of Beneficiary, SF-2823 should be completed and forwarded to SAO Benefits Office along with the completed Life Insurance Election.


Effective Date of Coverage

Your Basic coverage is effective as of the date you become eligible. For many employees, that will be your appointment date. For others, it will be the date a change in appointment makes you newly-eligible. Your Optional insurance becomes effective the first day in a pay and duty status on or after the SF-2817 electing such coverage is received by SAO Benefits Office. Payroll deductions begin with the pay period in which coverage becomes effective.


Leave Without Pay (LWOP)

Basic and Optional insurance continues without cost to you while you are on LWOP for up to 12 months, after which the insurance is terminated unless you return to a pay status. Employees who enter the military on active duty or active duty for training may continue coverage for up to 12 months.


Termination of Coverage

You may cancel your insurance at any time, but if you do, you will be required to wait one year and have a medical examination approved by FEGLI in order to resume coverage at a later date.


If You Leave SAO

If you leave SAO, you may convert your insurance to an individual policy without proof of insurability. Conversions must be completed within 31 days of your separation date. If you retire, your life insurance coverage may continue under certain conditions. Accidental Death and Dismemberment coverage would not continue into retirement.


Additional Information

For more information on FEGLI, click here or contact the SAO Benefits Office at (617) 495-7371.


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