Annual Report 2016 | American Foreign Service Association
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Ambassador (ret.) Thomas Boyatt

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My activities and the work of the staff persons

associated with retiree matters fall into three


First is individual service to retired members who have

problems with our complicated retirement system or

with other elements of the government. My colleagues

Janet Hedrick and Todd Thurwachter do the heavy

lifting here, helping hundreds of retirees through a

range of challenges from explaining how to get the

most out of their retirement benefits, resolving annuity

and benefits problems, supporting surviving spouses

at a difficult time, to the perennial complains about the

idiosyncratic functioning of the WAE system. Although

we can’t “win them all,” feedback from satisfied retirees

confirms that our batting average is pretty high.

Second, we work to preserve retiree benefits at

the institutional level, both in the legislative and

executive spheres. The major challenge in this area

during 2016 was the dramatic and OPM-sanctioned

increases (averaging about 85%) in the long term care

premiums in government sponsored programs. The

policies are underwritten by John Hancock. We made

common cause with AFGE and NARFE, whose impacted

members were in the thousands and whose financial

and legal resources dwarfed ours. We would have given

serious consideration to joining either organization in a

legal challenge but both decided that legal challenges

would not prosper.

Accordingly, we concentrated on helping nearly

AFSA also made every effort to educate members about

the structure and functioning of the insurance industry

in the current unique circumstances of extremely low

interest rates which have lasted for a decade. Both the

long-term care and health care industries continue to

be under financial stress and we see no rapid improve-

ments near term.

Finally, the Retiree Vice President is an officer of

AFSA and has responsibilities as such. He/she is a

member of the executive, finance/management/audit,

and governance committees, and is expected to

contribute to their work and perform other tasks

assigned by the AFSA President or the board. During

the past year I was involved in the following:

Took the lead in asserting AFSA’ statutory right to

name members (not just approve management’s nom-

inees) of the Foreign Service Labor Relations Board

(FSLRB) and the Foreign Service Grievance Board (FSGB).

A distinguished retired Career Ambassador recently

individual AFSA members deal

constructively with the problem

spikes, even arranging one-on-one

counseling with the authorized

representatives of the Federal LTC

program, to find the best option for

each enrollee.