What is deferring and why would I?

The first step in deferring coverage is to understand what it is and why you would want to do it.

Already know and ready to defer? Visit How do I defer? for instructions. Need eligibility information? Visit Am I eligible to enroll or defer? for details.

What is deferring?

Deferring is a formal process that allows you to pause or postpone enrollment in PEBB retiree insurance coverage but lets you stay eligible to enroll in the future. You may choose to defer when you are first eligible for PEBB retiree insurance coverage or after you enroll. 

You must be eligible to enroll in PEBB retiree insurance coverage in order to defer your enrollment. The process involves checking that you are eligible to defer, then submitting forms and documents within a given timeframe.

If you defer, in most cases, you also defer enrollment for your dependents.

Note: When you defer, you are pausing or postponing enrollment in both medical and dental coverage. Retirees cannot enroll only in dental.

Why would I defer?

Because you have other qualified medical coverage available. 

Real-world example

You are retiring, but your spouse or state-registered domestic partner is still working. You want to use their employer's health coverage, so you defer enrollment in PEBB retiree insurance coverage. 

Later, when your spouse or partner retires or separates from employment, you apply to enroll yourself and any eligible dependents in a PEBB retiree health plan, ending your deferral. 

You must provide proof of continuous coverage

When you apply for enrollment after your deferral, you must provide proof that you were continuously enrolled in one or more qualifying medical coverages (including start and end dates). See below for a definition of qualified medical coverage.

When you defer, you can have a gap of 31 days or less:

  • Between the date you defer your PEBB retiree insurance coverage and the start date of a qualified coverage, and
  • Between each period of qualified coverages during the deferral period.

We encourage you to collect proof of coverage annually and keep a file to provide to the PEBB Program in the event you want to return in the future.

How do I defer?

Deferring is slightly different depending on your situation. Visit the following webpages for more information:

What is qualified medical coverage?

Qualified medical coverage is enrollment in other insurance, for example, through your spouse or state-registered domestic partner, or military affiliation. This may include:

  • Enrollment as a dependent in a Washington State educational service district-sponsored, PEBB-sponsored, or SEBB-sponsored health plan
  • Employer-based group medical (including COBRA and continuation coverage)
  • Federal retiree medical plan such as a TRICARE plan or Federal Employees Health Benefits Program
  • Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA)
  • Medicare Part A and Part B and a Medicaid program that provides creditable coverage
  • Enrollment in health benefit exchange coverage that is not Medicaid – for retirees not enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B

Related laws and rules

Washington Administrative Codes (WAC) are the official rules used for PEBB Program eligibility and deferral.

  • WAC 182-12-200: May a retiring employee, a retiring school employee, or a retiree enrolled as a dependent in a health plan sponsored by public employees benefits board (PEBB), a Washington state educational service district, or school employees benefits board (SEBB) defer enrollment under PEBB retiree insurance coverage?
  • WAC 182-12-205: May a retiree or a survivor defer enrollment or voluntarily terminate enrollment under public employees benefits board (PEBB) retiree insurance coverage?


The PEBB Program
Phone: 1-800-200-1004
TRS: 711
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday

HCA Support  (secure, login portal with your personal account)
Send us a secure message through HCA Support, a secure website that allows you to log into your own account to communicate with us. You will need to set up a SecureAccess Washington (SAW) account to use this option.