Foreign Service Officers represent the United States throughout the world. The retirement plans and benefits of employees of the U.S. Department of State's Foreign Service Office fall into two categories, depending on when the employee began work. Upon retirement, employees receive an annuity in addition to other retirement benefits.
Foreign Service Retirement and Disability System
The FSRDS is the older of two two retirement plans, and generally limited to career Foreign Service workers who entered the federal work force prior to January 1, 1984 or who have been employed by the U.S. government with a break in employment that occurred before December 31, 1983. Those with a break of one year or less since 1984 also qualify for plan participation. FSRDS-enrolled employees contribute 7.25 percent of their base pay into the retirement plan.
Foreign Service Retirement and Disability System Offset
The FSRDS offset plan came into being in the mid-1980s as new Foreign Service employees and other federal employees became eligible for Social Security benefits. Unlike the original FSRDS plan, these employees receive coverage under the offset plan and also receive Social Security upon retirement. The offset plan is only available to those Foreign Service workers with a minimum of five years of civilian federal service credits before January 1, 1987. Those enrolled in the offset plan pay 1.06 percent of basic wages to the plan up to the annual Social Security limit, as well as 6.2 percent of basic wages to Social Security. On annual wages above the limit for Social Security, employees contribute 7.25 percent of basic wages to the FSRDS.
Foreign Service Spousal Retirement
If the Foreign Service Officer's spouse worked at overseas U.S. missions under the Family Member Appointment system, he qualifies for retirement benefits. Such benefits fall under the auspices of the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). These spouses may also contribute to the federal thrift savings plan, an investment plan for supplemental retirement savings. Surviving spouse benefits for those married to Foreign Service Officers are handled by the Department of State's Office of Retirement
Health and Life Insurance Benefits
Employees retiring on an immediate annuity may retain health benefits if continuously enrolled in the federal or military health care system, or covered under in these plans as a family member. Continuously is defined as for all of the employee's service, or for the five years immediately prior to retirement. Employees continue to receive basic life insurance after retirement if they are insured at the time of retiring and do not convert the basic policy to an individual policy. Eligible employees must receive basic life insurance coverage at least five years immediately prior to retirement, and cannot have received payments of life insurance benefits in that time period.