The benefits of know about your benefits

While reaching your 65th birthday is hardly the guaranteed sign of retirement it once was, it is still an age that means change for your group benefits and health insurance. When approaching retirement make sure you know how your group and individual insurance will change whether you are working full time, part time or doing what you want on your own time. A few minutes going over your policy fine print will save you from unwanted surprises in the future.

If working full time:

At age 65 many benefits change. Group life insurance and accidental death and disability insurance benefits commonly decrease by half at age 65, even if you are still working full-time. It is a good time to evaluate what individual life insurance you have and what you will need.

Looking forward to retiring? Better plan first.

Most individual disability insurance policies will remain the same if you still work a certain number of hours per week; however, you need to inform the insurance company of your status. Past age 65, the benefit period for a claim commonly drops to two years.

Some individual disability and critical illness policies also have provisions that allow you to convert the policies to long term care policies, as your focus changes from income replacement to funding potential future care.

For both personal and group plans, out of country travel coverage usually changes at age 65, decreasing by either the length of travel covered or the amount payable. (If you rely on your credit card for travel insurance read the fine print on that policy as well. Each card is different, but for most cards the terms of coverage change at age 65.)

If retiring:

Know what you can take with you.  In most cases, your workplace group life insurance can be converted to a personal policy when you retire or leave a company.

Investigate what government plans will cover so that you get the health insurance coverage that you need.  And if you have a spouse with his or her own workplace plan, see if that plan can pick up where yours is dropping off.

Apply for a personal health insurance plan right away. If you apply for coverage within 60 days of leaving a group insurance plan, minimal or no medical proof of insurability is required by most companies. Your current insurance carrier may offer a plan, but you can look into options from other insurance companies as well.

If working part time:

Don’t assume working fewer hours but staying with the company means that you will still be entitled to the group insurance coverage. Most employee plans require you to work a minimum hours per week to be eligible for benefits. Know that number before you make the switch to part-time hours. Choose your schedule accordingly if you want to keep those benefits in force.