If you've got a long-term care insurance application from the open season, you can still send it in even though the deadline has passed.

The window for open season applications closed at midnight Dec. 31, but the Office of Personnel Management has announced that federal employees and retirees holding open season applications have until the end of this month to submit them and take advantage of open season rules.

The applications must be in the hands of Long Term Care Partners Inc., the company that holds the OPM contract, by Jan. 31. That's not postmarked by Jan. 31; the company has to receive the form before the month ends.

Program officials expected that many federal employees and retirees would wait until the deadline approached to make a decision on whether to sign up for coverage. With that in mind, program officials decided to accept open season forms through the end of January.

Data on how many people signed up for coverage will not be tabulated until next month. But program officials did see a late-breaking surge of interest: 235,000 application forms were downloaded in the last 10 days of the open season.

Program officials don't know what to think of the phenomenon. But they are intrigued by the notion that 235,000 forms could be lying on desks and kitchen counters in homes across the country, and hope that giving would-be applicants a little extra time may pay off in increased sales of long-term care policies.

Applying under open season rules provides two key advantages. For employees, the open season form requires answers to fewer medical and health questions. For all applicants, the "age freeze" remains in place. Open season premiums were based on the type of coverage selected and the enrollee's age as of July 1.

Applicants without an open season form will likely be asked to provide more details about their health, and premiums will be based on the person's age at the time of application for coverage.

But check with the program about application rules. For example, new government employees -- civil service, postal and military -- and their spouses and newly married spouses of employees can use the abbreviated form if they apply within 60 days of becoming eligible.

For more information, call the long-term care insurance program at 800-582-3337 or go to www.ltcfeds.com.

'Paying for College' Workshop Interested in finding out more about government-sponsored college loans? Looking for explanations of grants and scholarships? Join Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) and experts from the Sallie Mae Fund at a "Paying for College" workshop tomorrow.

Two sessions -- 10 a.m. at Brentsville District High School in Nokesville and 1 p.m. at J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church -- will be held. To attend, please call 877-840-8224 or sign up at www.thesalliemaefund.org/register.

Retirements Gloria A. Baker in the Army chief of staff's executive communications office retired Jan. 3 after more than 40 years of government service.

Andrew D. Certo, director of the Defense Department standardization program office, retired Jan. 3 after more than 34 years of federal service.

William W. Ford, of the State Department's information resources management bureau, retired Jan. 3 after more than 41 years of federal service.

Eugene R. Johnson Sr., a human resources specialist at the Securities and Exchange Commission, is retiring after 42 years of federal service.

Patrick J. Sweeney, a senior analyst at the General Accounting Office, retired Jan. 3 after 33 years of federal service. He worked with the Senate in 1996 and 2002 on farm legislation.

Talk Shows Tammy Flanagan, a federal retirement benefits specialist, will discuss retirement planning at 11 a.m. today on federalnewsradio.com.

Leo S. Mackay Jr., Veterans Affairs Department deputy secretary, will be the guest on "The Business of Government Hour" at 8 a.m. tomorrow on WJFK radio (106.7 FM).

"Thank President Reagan for the King Holiday?" will be the topic for discussion on the Imagene B. Stewart call-in program at 8 a.m. Sunday on WOL radio (1450 AM).

Stephen Barr's e-mail address is barrs@washpost.com.