the Foreign Service journal
Playing the “REA” Game
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-
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