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the Foreign Service journal


may 2016


Playing the “REA” Game

FSWork in



On Life after the foreign service


n return for devoting many years of challenging,

often dangerous, service to the nation, Foreign Ser-

vice members are eligible to retire while still young,

healthy and up to date with professional skills. This

allows us to pursue second (or third) careers, go back

to school, take on part-time work, volunteer, chill

out—or any combination thereof.

Following that last office retirement party, many

former members of the Foreign Service want or need

to continue working in some capacity. Specifically, many choose

to use their personal and professional connections to line up

annuitant work with the Department of State.

With that in mind, State created the When Actually Employed

(WAE) program, which has now been renamed the Re-Employed

Annuitant (REA) program. Recently, the Department of Com-

Re-employment as an annuitant is an important option for retirees.

Here’s how it works.

By Lawrence Cohen

Lawrence Cohen, a State Department Foreign Service

officer from 1980 to 2007, served as AFSA’s vice presi-

dent for retirees from 2013 to 2015. Since retiring from

the Service, he continues to work for State part-time as

a re-employed annuitant both overseas and inWash-

ington, D.C.

merce Foreign Commercial Service announced it would launch

its own re-employed annuitant program, modeled on the State

Department program. In this article I use the new term, REA, to

refer to the State Department’s annuitant employment program.

Returning to Work

Eligible Foreign Service retirees may return to work, either

overseas or stateside, in one or more positions for up to 1,040

hours in a year (the equivalent of half a full-time position),

without any reduction in one’s pension. The one-year limitation

begins on the date you start work as an REA. There is also an

annual monetary cap (based on a calendar year): REA earn-

ings plus annuity payments in any year must not exceed your

final Foreign Service salary. Because annuitants receive no job

benefits they may be considerably cheaper choices for State than

active-duty FS members to fill vital personnel gaps.

These assignments may last anywhere from a few days to six

months and can be personally, professionally and financially

rewarding. As a bonus, they also help retirees maintain the gov-

ernment security clearances vital to securing other governmen-

tal employment opportunities (as a contractor, for example). The

bureau that places the candidate on its roster is responsible for