AFSA Retirement Newsletter - June 2021

In this issue you will find:

  1. Help for Parents of Foreign Service Members
  2. My Social Security
  3. Long-Term Care (LTC): One Size Does Not Fit All
  4. Upcoming Webinar in late June on Pre-Retirement Financial Planning
  5. Have You Changed Your FEHB Plan recently? Willing to Share your Thoughts?
  6. AFSA’s Outreach Programming and New Resources
  7. AFSA Commemorates Foreign Service Day, May 2021
  8. American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) HomeFit Guide
  9. TSP Free Webinars Schedule
 

Help for Parents of Foreign Service Members

For over 30 years, the Senior Living Foundation of the American Foreign Service (http://www.slfoundation.org) has provided financial and informational support to Foreign Service retirees and their spouses (including surviving and divorced spouses) who have become physically and/or mentally unable to cope with issues that crop up during our later years.

In 2018, the Foundation added a Parent Program to assist active-duty Foreign Service members who live far from a parent or parent-in-law who needs help managing an urgent or chronic medical situation. Over the past three years, the Parent Program has assisted more than 150 parents of Foreign Service members.

In a typical case, a Senior Living Foundation social worker connects the Foreign Service member with a professional care manager in the parent's community. The local care manager then assesses the situation and makes recommendations to meet immediate needs as well as to craft long-term plans.

For more information, go to http://www.slfoundation.org/aboutus.cfm and then click on the link to the Parent Program brochure. The Senior Living Foundation is a non-profit organization funded primarily by individual donations. Its services are provided free of charge.

 

My Social Security

All future and current Social Security beneficiaries should create a My Social Security account on the Social Security Administration's website. On it, future beneficiaries can view a personalized retirement benefits report that estimates the monthly payment they will receive depending on the age they apply (between age 62 and 70). Current Social Security beneficiaries can perform numerous functions, including updating their address and direct deposit information.

To create a My Social Security account, go to www.ssa.gov and click on Sign In/Up. You will be asked to verify your identity by providing personal information about yourself and answering questions taken from your credit report that only you are likely to know. You will need to enter a valid U.S. mailing address. If you currently have a fraud alert on your credit report, you will face additional registration steps.

Once logged in, you can generate a personalized Social Security statement showing your year-by-year lifetime earnings history. Check to make sure it captures all your income that was subject to Social Security withholding. If any are missing, see the online instructions on what action to take.

 

Long-Term Care (LTC): One Size Does Not Fit All

AFSA recently presented two webinars on Long-Term Care: the first focused on the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) and the second on alternatives available from the private sector, specifically New York Life, which also offers LTC options through retirement giant, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

An AFSA member recently wrote to us, letting us know that he ultimately purchased a hybrid LTC policy from New York Life. With this policy, he relates, the premium not used for LTC goes to a death benefit. Our member observed that the market for LTC policies is evolving to meet the expanding needs of the Baby Boomer generation, and that if his experience is any judge, AFSA members may wish to consider a range of approaches to LTC before making a final choice. AFSA’s two programs are a good place to start to settle upon the best solution for you and your family.

 

Upcoming Webinar in late June on Pre-Retirement Financial Planning

AFSA will present a webinar on "Planning for Your Life and Lifestyle" on Wednesday, June 30 from 12:00 pm to 1:15 pm, our fourth webinar in 2021on retirement planning and benefits. Dwayne Jackson of Rembert/Pendleton/Jackson (a fee-only independent Registered Investment Advisory firm and fiduciary) will outline the needed steps and strategies to build a financial plan for a successful retirement. Mr. Jackson is a frequent presenter at the Foreign Service Institute; this will be his second presentation for AFSA. There will be time set aside to ask a limited number of questions of general interest to the audience. Register now for this virtual event.

 

Have You Changed Your FEHB Plan recently? Willing to Share your Thoughts?

It won’t be long before Open Season for the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program is upon us, in early November. AFSA offers its members access to Consumers’ Checkbook Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees, which is a well-regarded data-driven comparative analysis of the various FEHB plans. The Guide is helpfully organized according to whether you are active-duty, retired, have Medicare, etc., and is available during Open Season.

But nothing can replace the experience of our members who have gone through the process of evaluating various plans and opted to change from one to the other. If you are willing to offer the benefit of your experience to your colleagues, for good or for bad, please email Dolores Brown, Counselor for Retirees, at brown@afsa.org with your thoughts. AFSA will not relay the names of our members who write in, just their stories.

 

AFSA’s Outreach Programming and New Resources

In case you missed it, on May 26 AFSA hosted the second event of our Inside Diplomacy virtual series which explores current national security issues as they relate to foreign policy and the Foreign Service. The event featured Jim DeHart, U.S. Coordinator for the Arctic Region, who had just returned from the Arctic Council Ministerial in Reykjavik. He talked about current opportunities and challenges in Arctic diplomacy. If you were unable to attend, you can watch the recording: Arctic Diplomacy. Please feel free to share the video with others who may be interested.

As a part of our outreach work, AFSA is increasingly active on social media as a way to share our content and reach existing and new audiences. If you haven’t already, please follow AFSA on Facebook and Twitter and amplify our messaging by sharing posts about events, articles, and information on the Foreign Service. Additionally, make sure you check us out on LinkedIn (AFSA LinkedIn and the new Foreign Service Journal LinkedIn profile) as well, as we will be posting more industry-focused content there.

To complement AFSA’s efforts to reach younger audiences who are not familiar with the work of the Foreign Service, AFSA has developed a new section on our website: About the Foreign Service. This page provides resources to learn more about the Foreign Service, including fact sheets and FAQs, links to videos, and compelling stories written by members of the Foreign Service about their work and role as a U.S. diplomat. This is also a useful resource for our members when you are doing speaking engagements at schools or other community organizations. We encourage you to share the page as part of your presentations and other resources shared.

Finally, at the beginning of the year, AFSA created an outreach challenge for our retired members. The outreach challenge winner was Ambassador James Zumwalt, who not only had 3 speaking engagements during this period (January to May 7, 2021) and has signed up for 2 more in the fall, but also helped to establish excellent rapport with the Tarrant County College Northwest Campus (TX), which has since requested repeat AFSA speakers to talk to students about the Foreign Service.

Our members were very active during this period and we were very impressed with the turnout and commitment to telling the story of the Foreign Service. Thank you to all who participated and please continue letting us know when you have speaking engagements.

If you have questions about AFSA’s outreach work, please contact Strategic Communications and Outreach Manager Nadja Ruzica at ruzica@afsa.org.

 

AFSA Commemorates Foreign Service Day, May 2021

To commemorate Foreign Service Day on the first Friday in May each year, AFSA plans a variety of events and programs. On Thursday May 6, AFSA hosted two virtual events for members. The first, Congressional Advocacy: Reflections & Opportunities in the 117th Congress, reviewed what AFSA was able to achieve from the previous two years and outlined current legislative and advocacy priorities. The second program, Foreign Service Podcasts: A New Opportunity, was geared toward introducing how podcasts offer a different medium and format that can reach new audience to share the work of the Foreign Service. The program featured the hosts of two popular podcasts focused on the work of the Foreign Service: Ambassador (ret.) Pete Romero, host of the podcast American Diplomat, and Ambassador (ret.) Deborah McCarthy, host of the podcast The General and the Ambassador.

AFSA also participated in the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Day programming on Friday, May 7. This included the AFSA Memorial Ceremony with Secretary Antony Blinken and AFSA State VP Tom Yazdgerdi, an important opportunity to honor and remember our fallen colleagues. If you missed it, please click here to watch the ceremony.

Finally, as a part of Foreign Service Day each year, we asked AFSA members to participate by taking the opportunity to highlight the work of the Foreign Service through our annual letter to the editor campaign. This year we also added a social media campaign asking members to post why they are proud to be/or have been a member of the Foreign Service using the hashtag #FSProud. We had a good response for both initiatives. Thank you to all who participated.

 

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) HomeFit Guide

AARP's HomeFit Guide, a free publication, features ways to transform one’s home to a comfortable, safe place for older adults. “Staying in place” is the overwhelming choice for most seniors, and experts suggest that these modifications should be considered before – not after – they are needed.

In addition, AARP is offering a free app for iPhone and iPad that can be used to identify improvements in your own home, employing augmented reality to provide information with specific to-dos and suggestions. Information concerning the app is available here.

 

TSP Free Webinars Schedule

You can join TSP Training and Liaison Specialists from the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board on a variety of topics including “TSP Early to Mid-Career,” “TSP Post-Service Withdrawals,” “TSP to Retirement and Beyond,” and many more. The full schedule can be found here.