The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2022

52 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL New Year’s Resolutions RETIREE VP VOICE | BY JOHN K. NALAND AFSA NEWS Contact: Last fall, I presented two webinars on pre-retirement planning that more than 800 active-duty members viewed. Clearly, whatever shortcom- ings I may have elsewhere, knowledge of Foreign Service retirement is something I do have to offer. So, I will use this column to add to the list given in my November column of steps you can take to manage your retirement. The begin- ning of a new year is a great time to do your due diligence on these matters. Be Knowledgeable. What you don’t know can hurt you when it comes to the rules, procedures and deadlines for federal retirement benefits. So, please review the informa- tion found in the first 20 pages of the 2022 AFSADirectory of Retired Members, which you should receive in the mail by mid-January. Also review the guidance in the Department of State’s 2022 Foreign Service Annual Annuitant Newsletter, posted online at https://RNet. under the “What’s New?” tab. Benefits Checklist. Check out the “Retirement Planning Checklist for Current Retir- ees” posted on the Retirement Services section of the AFSA website at retirement-services. There you will find 14 items—such as ensuring that beneficiary designations are up to date— along with references for more information. Prepare for the Inevi- table. AFSA is frequently contacted by family members of recently deceased retirees asking how to initiate survivor benefits. To assist them, we created a list of the steps to take, which is posted in the Retirement Services section of the AFSA website under “Reporting Deaths of Foreign Service Retirees or Survivors. ” The list is also included in the AFSA Directory of Retired Members. I recommend that you download or make a copy of the list, show it to your next-of-kin, and file it with your will. Online Annuity Records. You can instantaneously update your tax withholdings, change your mailing address or download your Form 1099-R on www.employee Go to that website, click on “Sign in with” and then follow the steps to register if you have not done so already. Note that if you need to change where your annuity is electronically deposited, you must email . Assistance from AFSA. If you have questions that are not answered in AFSA’s or State’s written guidance, contact AFSA’s Counselor for Retirees Dolores Brown at or (202) 944-5510. As 2022 progresses, she and I will continue to update the information resources in the Retirement Services section of the AFSA website. If you have not checked out that section lately, please peruse the more than 100 items posted there. n 2016 MSI implementation disputes. This time, as noted above, AFSA filed an appeal and the FSLRB overturned the FSGB’s decision in January 2021, which led to the cur- rent settlement agreement. After AFSA won before the FSLRB in the 2015 and 2016 MSI disputes, the asso- ciation wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken to ask the department to voluntarily pay the 2014 MSIs, since this was the only group of employees/annui- tants who did not receive MSI payments, even though the relevant language in the procedural precepts was identical in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Secretary Blinken declined our request. AFSA’s dedicated Labor Management team has devoted hundreds of hours over the past seven years to litigating MSI cases to ensure our members and all Foreign Service employees get what is rightfully theirs. These are your AFSA dues at work. If you have any questions about this matter, please write to us at afsa@state. gov. n MSI Dispute Settlement Continued from page 49 AFSAGoverning Board Meeting Nov. 17, 2021 The board met by videoconference on Nov. 17 due to con- cerns over COVID-19. Any decisions by the Governing Board made virtually must be ratified when the board meets again in person, according to AFSA bylaws. Awards: The board approved the selection of 10 identified individuals to receive AFSA’s 2021 Sinclaire Language Award for outstanding success in learning a Category III or IV language. Associate Members: The board approved the applications of two new associate members. Note: Jay R. Raman (State) and Christine Pagen (USAID) were appointed to the Foreign Service Impasse Disputes Panel, which resolves impasses in negotiations between AFSA and the foreign affairs agencies. The appointments were made by the chair of the Federal Service Impasses Panel from two names submitted by AFSA and two by the foreign affairs agencies. The December AFSANews mistakenly listed both of AFSA’s nominees as having been appointed; only Mr. Raman was. n