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Cooper v. United States Office of Personnel Management

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 30, 2016

JON C. COOPER, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          AMY BERMAN JACKSON United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. # 11] and Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint [Dkt. # 14]. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant the former and deny the latter.

         BACKGROUND

         Federal employees may participate in the Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance Program (“FEGLI”). See Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. [Dkt. # 11-1] (“Def.'s Mem.”) at 3. The government of the United States “is the policyholder under a policy of life insurance issued by a commercial company” which administers claims under FEGLI through its Office of Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance. Id. at 4. An employee is automatically eligible for and covered under FEGLI unless he affirmatively waives Basic coverage. Id. at 6, citing 5 U.S.C. § 8701(a)-(b) and 5 C.F.R. § 870.301(a). An employee may elect to cancel coverage at any time by submitting his request in writing. See id., citing 5 C.F.R. § 807.502(a). Ordinarily, coverage ceases upon the employee's separation from federal service. Id. However, coverage may be continued under certain circumstances, and relevant to this case is the following provision:

         In the case of any employee who retires on an immediate annuity and has been insured under this chapter throughout -

(A) the 5 years of service immediately preceding the date of the employee's retirement, or
(B) the full period or periods of service during which the employee was entitled to be insured, if fewer than 5 years, life insurance, without accidental death and dismemberment insurance, may be continued, under conditions determined by the Office [of Personnel Management].

5 U.S.C. § 8706(b)(1) (emphasis added).

         The Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”) illustrates the application of § 8706(b)(1)(B), known as the “all opportunity” requirement, with this example from the FEGLI Handbook:

Amy waived all FEGLI when she was first employed in 1973. She left Federal service in 2003 and returned to service in 2011. When she returned to service, she was automatically enrolled in Basic insurance her very first day. She retired 11/30/12. Amy did not meet the 5-year requirement for continuing her FEGLI coverage (she waived it back in 1973). Her “first opportunity” to enroll was in 1973. Since she did not have the coverage for the full period of service it was available to her, she also didn't meet the all-opportunity requirement. Therefore, Amy was not eligible to continue any of her FEGLI coverage into retirement.

Def.'s Mem. at 7-8 (excerpt from FEGLI Handbook). Breaks in service are not considered. See id. at 7.

         Plaintiff was an employee of the Environmental Protection Agency from May 27, 1979 to February 4, 1983, when he left the federal service. Administrative R., Ex. to Def.'s Mem. [Dkt. # 11-3] (“AR”) at OPM 056; Compl. [Dkt. # 1] at 2. He waived FEGLI coverage twice: on May 31, 1979 and March 12, 1981. AR at OPM 004-005. When plaintiff joined the United States Coast Guard as a civilian employee, he selected Basic FEGLI coverage effective May 21, 2011. AR at OPM 003; see Compl. at 1. He retired on May 31, 2014. AR at OPM 056.

         Plaintiff elected Basic FEGLI life insurance coverage “as part of his retirement package from the . . . Coast Guard, but his application was denied by OPM.” Compl. at 1. On or about September 8, 2015, plaintiff sought reconsideration of the initial decision, but the agency denied his request again. ...


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