Q&A From AFSA Re. Impact of Government Shutdown on FS Retirement Benefits

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    Ven Suresh
    Keymaster

    Q: Will my Foreign Service pension be paid?

    A. Yes. Your December pension (including the 2019 COLA adjustment) was released to your financial institution on December 31. The State Department has assured AFSA that January pensions will be paid as scheduled on February 1 regardless of the length of any lapse in appropriations. Your pension is not funded by annual Congressional appropriations but is drawn from the Foreign Service Retirement and Disability Fund. That Fund was established on May 24, 1924 and is currently valued at $20 billion. Its assets are held in special-issuance U.S. Treasury notes (not in the stock market). The Fund is actuarily sound – meaning that its assets (current and projected) cover its expenses (current and projected).

    Q: Do Annuity Supplement recipients still need to file an earnings report with the State Department by January 7.

    A. Yes. The FSPS Annuity Supplement is subject to reduction in 2019 if a retiree had wage income in 2018 exceeding $17,040. This earnings test begins when a retiree reaches their Minimum Retirement Age (55 to 57 depending on year of birth) and continues to age 62 when the supplement is automatically terminated. If you are a retiree in that age range, you must submit an earnings report to the State Department by Monday, January 7, 2019 (even if you had no wage earnings) or State will suspend payment of your supplement on February 1. For details and the required form, see pages 10-13 of the 2019 Foreign Service Annual Annuitant Newsletter published by Office of Retirement online at https://RNet.state.gov under the “What’s New?” tab or posted on the AFSA website at http://www.afsa.org/retiree under “From the State Department.”

    Q. Could a prolonged government shutdown have any impact on Foreign Service retirees?

    A. Uncertain. Retirees who need to adjust their benefits – for example, reporting a change in marital status – could face longer processing times due to reduced staffing at the State Department. Retirees who encounter delays are asked to inform AFSA at member@afsa.org so we can investigate. Retirees who need a copy of their 1099R for tax purposes or who need to notify the State Department of a change of address or change of direct deposit instructions should do so online via their Annuitant Express account instead of telephoning or emailing the State Department. For logon instructions, see page 20 of the 2019 Foreign Service Annual Annuitant Newsletter at https://RNet.state.gov under the “What’s New?” tab or view instructions posted on the AFSA website at http://www.afsa.org/retiree under “Annuities.”

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