The Foreign Service Journal - March 2018

50 MARCH 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Here's how the Senior Living Foundation of the American Foreign Service assists our colleagues when life changes cause challenges. Taking Care of Our Own John K. Naland retired from the Foreign Service in 2015. He is currently the AFSA retiree vice president and previously served as AFSA president (twice) and AFSA State vice president. He is also president of the Foreign Service Youth Foundation ( ). F ounded in 1988, the Senior Living Foun- dation is the only organization dedicated to providing financial and informational support to retired Foreign Service person- nel and their spouses (including surviving and divorced spouses) who have become physically or mentally unable to cope with issues that crop up during their later years. “Those in need,” explains SLF Chairman Marc Grossman, “are our colleagues who, along with their families, devoted their lives and their service to our country, but who now confront challenges they cannot meet alone during their retirement years.” Despite a public perception that federal retirees live easy, “the monthly annuity of many Foreign Service widows and former spouses is below the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s low-income figure for their area,” says SLF Executive Director Paula S. Jakub. Most retirees face rising costs for medical care and housing that outpace the inflation adjustments to their pensions. Retirees in the pre-1986 Foreign Service Retirement and Disability System do not have income from Social Security and the Thrift Sav- ings Plan to supplement their pensions. Tomorrow’s retirees FS KNOW-HOW face an unknown future due to the underfunded Social Security system and proposed changes to federal retirement benefits. How SLF Can Help To preserve the privacy of SLF clients, the following names are fictitious. The examples are composites of typical client situations. • After 30 years as an office management specialist (OMS), Helen E. retired as an FP-4 (the top of her career ladder). While her Foreign Service pension was relatively modest, so too was her retirement lifestyle. Health insurance covered most medical expenses; but, never having had dental problems, she did not buy optional dental insurance. Thus, while her budget could handle occasional big expenses such as a replacement refrigerator or car repairs, she had no funds to pay $12,000 when she faced medically necessary dental surgery. Fortu- nately, the Senior Living Foundation of the American Foreign Service stepped in to pay that bill. • Sonia K. enjoyed many good years with her husband, a retired Senior Foreign Service officer. But when he died, the Treasury Department pulled back his most recent annuity deposit from the couple’s bank account. It took Sonia several weeks to gather documentation to send to the State Department in order to initiate her survivor annuity and life insurance settlement. It took several more weeks for the government to make those payments. In the meantime, there were funeral expenses to be paid and the monthly mortgage payment came due. SLF stepped in with an emergency grant. BY JOHN K . NALAND