Recent Coverage

This section explains recent coverage—and why it is important if you want to qualify for your highest possible Plan benefits. It shows the different types of benefits available with and without recent coverage.

Important Topics

Benefits Available With and Without Recent Coverage
Recent Coverage at Retirement
Recent Coverage If You Die Before Retirement

About Recent Coverage

This section explains recent coverage and why it’s important if you want to qualify for your highest possible Plan benefits. You need to understand the different types of benefits available with and without recent coverage.

Your Plan has two separate recent coverage rules—one that applies when you retire and another that applies if you die before retirement. Each of these rules is explained later in this section.

Recent coverage affects more than just your benefit amount. It’s one of the key requirements for qualifying for a higher early retirement benefit, PEER benefit, disability benefit and certain death benefits.

Click here for a chart that highlights many ways that recent coverage impacts the Plan benefits that you or your survivors may receive.

To understand the recent coverage rules, you need to first become familiar with four important terms (explained next). Page Top link

Important Terms

60-Month Period

A period of 60 consecutive calendar months.

Year of Contributory Service

You earn a year of contributory service each year you work at least 500 covered hours.

Earliest Retirement Date

Usually, your earliest retirement date is your 55th birthday. However, if you are not vested when you reach age 55, your earliest retirement date is postponed until the end of the month in which you vest.

Under the Rule of 84 and PEER, your earliest retirement date can be before age 55.

A different date may apply if you become totally and permanently disabled before your earliest retirement date.

Pension Effective Date

Your pension effective date is the date when your Plan benefits are first payable. It must be the first of the month. Click here for details about choosing a pension effective date.Page Top link

Benefits Available With & Without Recent Coverage

Recent coverage is essential if you want to qualify for your highest possible Plan benefits. Click here to see the different types of benefits available to you and your family or Plan beneficiary with and without recent coverage. Page Top link

Recent Coverage Rules

In general, you have recent coverage if you work at least 1,500 covered hours during the 60-month period ending just before your pension effective date (or ending with the month of your death if before retirement).

If you have recent coverage when you complete 25 years of contributory service, it’s yours for good. You have locked in your recent coverage protection. You can’t lose it by going on a reduced work schedule or leaving covered employment entirely. This is true even if you are many years away from retirement.

These recent coverage rules are in the charts below:

Click here for an example of how you meet the recent coverage rule on your earliest retirement date.

Click here to see how you can lock in your recent coverage after you complete 25 years of contributory service.

Note: If you leave covered employment or go on a reduced work schedule before benefits begin, you can lose recent coverage. Without it, you may not qualify for all Plan benefits or get the most out of the Plan for your covered employment (even if you’re vested). For example, you would not be eligible for disability retirement benefits and would have lower early retirement benefits. Page Top link

Recent Coverage at Retirement

Many of your Plan’s retirement and after-retirement death benefits are only available if you have recent coverage at retirement. Click here to see the different types of benefits available to your family or Plan beneficiary with and without recent coverage.

Here are the three ways you can have recent coverage at retirement. Once you meet any one of them, your recent coverage cannot be lost.

Your Earliest Retirement Date

You have 1,500 covered hours in the 60-month period ending just before your earliest retirement date.

Your Pension Effective Date 

You have 1,500 covered hours in the 60-month period ending just before your pension effective date.

25 Years of Contributory Service—Lock-In Rule

You have 1,500 covered hours in any 60-month period ending after you complete 25 years of contributory service.

Note: There are additional recent coverage rules if you are applying for a disability retirement benefit. Page Top link

Recent Coverage If You Die Before Retirement

If you die before retirement, many of your Plan’s death and survivor benefits are only available to your family and Plan beneficiary if you have recent coverage when you die. Click here to see the different types of benefits available to your family or Plan beneficiary if you die with and without recent coverage.

Here are the three ways you can satisfy the recent coverage requirement if you die before retirement.

Your Date of Death is Before Your Earliest Retirement Date
You have 1,500 covered hours in the 60-month period ending with the month of your death.

Your Date of Death is After Your Earliest Retirement Date
You have 1,500 covered hours in the 60-month period ending with the month that begins just before your earliest retirement date or if later, your date of death.

25 Years of Contributory Service—Lock-In Rule
You have 1,500 covered hours in any 60-month period ending after you complete 25 years of contributory service.

As long as you continue to work at least 500 covered hours each calendar year until your earliest retirement date, you won’t lose your recent coverage. Check with your Area Administrative Office about your exact situation.

Click here for questions and answers about Recent Coverage. Page Top link