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MARCH 2016




Retiree Corner articles are written by Retiree Counselor Todd Thurwachter.


Enrollment Still Open

If you missed the Dec.

14 open season deadline to

enroll in the self-plus-one

health benefit, you’re in luck.

Per guidance from the

Office of Personnel Man-

agement, “annuitants are

allowed to decrease enroll-

ment at any time. This means

that if you have a self-and-

family enrollment and you

decide you would like to

change to a self-plus-one

enrollment, you may do so

throughout the year. …

“If you have a self-only

enrollment, however, you

must experience a qualify-

ing life event (QLE) in order

to change to self-plus-one.

These are events such as

marriage, divorce or a family

member’s loss of coverage

under another health insur-

ance program. For a full list

of allowed QLEs, please view

the [form] SF-2809.”

To get an SF-2809 form,

call HRSC at 1(866) 300-7419

or download it from

You must file the form

with the Department of

State’s Human Resources

Service Center in Charleston,

South Carolina, either as an

attachment to your email to,

or by U.S.

mail to: U.S. Department of

State, HR Service Center,

1999 Dyess Ave., Building E,

Charleston SC 29405.

Be forewarned: While

OPM reported that self-plus-

one enrollment would save,

on average, 6 percent over

the self-and-family option,

in some plans self-plus-one

costs more! For example,

self-plus-one costs $3.61 per

month more than self-and-

family in the popular Foreign

Service Benefit Plan adminis-

tered by the American Foreign

Service Protective Asso-

ciation. Definitely check with

your insurer before switching.

You can rest assured that

self-plus-one is considered a

type of self-and-family plan

and thus meets the require-

ment allowing the survivor

of an annuitant to continue

Federal Employees Health

Benefits coverage, provided

that the couple had been

enrolled in a self-and-family

(including self-plus-one) plan

for at least the preceding five

years and the annuitant had

set up the spouse to receive

survivor benefits.

AFSA Outreach


The American Foreign

Service Association Govern-

ing Board has committed to

explaining what the Foreign

Service does to a broader

audience across the United

States. To do so AFSA has

aggressively increased the

ranks of its Speakers Bureau,

a program connecting For-

eign Service speakers with

groups that request one.

In the past year, we have

more than doubled the

number of Speakers Bureau

members to 360, and speak-

ing engagements have tripled

to almost 100. Half of those

resulted from speakers pro-

actively setting up speaking

engagements on their own.

But that’s just scratch-

ing the surface of what the

Speakers Bureau might

accomplish. Thanks to a new

partnership with the Cox

Foundation, AFSA is also

targeting high school social

studies teachers in an effort

to get Foreign Service speak-

ers in front of a new genera-

tion of future leaders.

To succeed, we need more

retirees—especially those

outside the D.C. area—to

step forward and join the

Speakers Bureau. All that is

required is a willingness to

share your personal Foreign

Service story.

AFSA will help you get

started by providing back-

ground information, sug-

gested talking points and a

free copy of its popular guide

to the Foreign Service,


a U.S. Embassy

, to take with

you to the venue.

To learn more, visit our

Speakers Bureau page at

Update on

OPM Data Breach

As of December, the Office

of Personnel Management

had sent letters to about 93

percent of the current and

former federal employees

who were affected by last

year’s cybertheft of OPM


The letters contain infor-

mation on credit monitoring,

identity theft protection ser-

vices and insurance provided

at no cost to affected indi-

viduals and their dependent

minor children (under the

age of 18 as of July 1, 2015)

for a period of three years.

OPM has established

a verification center oper-

ated by the Department

of Defense to collect valid

addresses for individuals who

could not be located and to

assist with PIN issues. Those

who believe they may have

been affected, but have not

yet received a letter, may

contact the center by calling

(866) 408-4555 or by visiting

After contacting the

verification center, the

individual will receive a letter

(the process can take a few

weeks). Recipients should

confirm that the letter is valid

by matching it to the sample


AFSA is pleased to roll out this inaugural edition of the Retiree Corner—a new feature that will appear in every other issue of

AFSA News. The Retiree Corner will augment the existing AFSA Newsletter, which transitioned to all-digital distribution in 2016.

Between the Retiree Corner, the electronic AFSA Newsletter and the long-established Retiree VP Voice Column, AFSA is bringing

our members even more robust coverage of issues of interest in retirement.

To continue receiving the AFSA Newsletter, send your email address or, if you don’t have one, that of a family member or friend