The Foreign Service Journal - March 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2018 51 • Mid-level Foreign Ser- vice Officer Mark S. was serv- ing overseas when he became concerned about his elderly parents in the United States, who were having increasing difficulties living indepen- dently. The SLF’s Resource Center explained the types of senior services available in the parents’ location and the way to access them. SLF also referred Mark to the crisis management officer in the Family Liaison Office, who told him about Emergency Visitation Travel and other programs designed to help employees dealing with long-distance eldercare issues. • Eloise N. served as an OMS overseas her entire career. She diligently saved what she could toward retirement, and gathered a nest egg large enough to supplement her modest Foreign Service pension for as long as she needed. However, when she was around 90 years old, she started to worry that she would outlive her savings. She turned to the SLF, which began providing a small monthly grant that increased over the next 12 years as her needs grew for additional home health care, dental care, prescriptions, etc. SLF helped keep Eloise in her home until she died peacefully one night—at the age of 103. Help in Times of Need Based on documented financial need, SLF helps to defray the cost of prescription copays, hearing aids, home health care services, geriatric care assessments, basic living expenses, senior housing, long-term care, durable medical equipment and other services that contribute to the health and security of the retired Foreign Service family. Last year, SLF provided over $220,000 in financial assistance. In a typical month, SLF helps more than two dozen colleagues, with grants generally ranging from $200 to $2,500. Grant recipients live across the United States, with two-thirds residing outside the Mid-Atlantic region. Four percent live overseas. Beyond financial assistance, SLF’s Resource Center con- nects both retirees and active-duty Foreign Service members with state, local and community resources to help them make life-changing decisions for themselves or aging loved ones. SLF’s licensed social worker consultant handles each case individually, helping colleagues navigate through the bureau- cratic maze to obtain the available help. Helping Others “SLF is here to serve our Foreign Service family, but we need retirees and active-duty employees to be our eyes and ears to help us reach those in need,” explains Executive Direc- tor Paula Jakub. Anyone who needs assistance, or who knows a Foreign Service colleague or family member who does, can reach SLF at or (202) 887- 8170. SLF considers each case individually and maintains total confidentiality. SLF’s work is made possible thanks to generous contribu- tions by individuals, corporations and bequests. Administra- tive overhead expenses are low since SLF receives support from the American Foreign Service Protective Association (sponsor of Foreign Service Benefit Plan health insurance). SLF is a tax-deductible, 501(c)(3) charitable organization that participates in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC number 40530). To learn more, visit SLF’s website at Helping Yourself Active-duty employees and retirees can take steps to reduce their chances of someday needing to turn to SLF for assistance. My article “Retirement Planning 101” in the May 2016 Foreign Service Journal discusses how employees can bui ld up their retirement nest eggs. The article recommends getting more detailed guidance on the Office of Retirement website ( ) and taking one of the Foreign Service Institute’s retirement planning seminars. Employees should also consider signing up for long-term care insurance and den- tal insurance, and should be sure to update their beneficiary designations in event of marriage, divorce or death of spouse. Retirees can refer to guidance in AFSA’s 2018 Directory of Retired Members, which suggests steps including making sure that your TSP account outpaces inflation, keeping your beneficiary designations up-to-date, and briefing your family on how to expeditiously file for survivor benefits. The directory also includes information on life insurance, long-term care insurance and Medicare. Official guidance can be found in the Office of Retirement’s Foreign Service Annual Annuitant Newsletter (posted at under “What’s New?”). n Tomorrow’s retirees face an unknown future due to the underfunded Social Security system and proposed changes to federal retirement benefits.