The Department of State, like many businesses and non-governmental organizations, assigns employees overseas whose households include not only spouses and dependent children, but also other individuals who fall outside the Department's current legal and statutory definition of family member. Regulations governing Members of Household are found in 3 FAM 4180.
Given the difficulties of a career involving frequent relocation and years of service overseas, often under hardship conditions, the Department of State wants to do whatever it can to support all of our employees in keeping their households intact. However, certain privileges and allowances may only be extended to family members as defined by laws, regulations and interpretations. The Standardized Regulations (040m) specify those family members who are eligible to be placed on an employee's orders.
Employees who bring individuals to post who are not on an employee's official travel orders should be aware of the following information:
The Department of State's policy regarding federal benefits and payment of benefits to persons other than a spouse is governed by the Defense of Marriage Act (5/96 H.R. 3396) which defines the words "marriage" and "spouse" for purposes of Federal law. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) provides that: "In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife."
Under the definitions outlined in the Defense of Marriage Act, domestic partners are not entitled to the same federal benefits as "spouses" of employees. Federal government benefits, such as health insurance and pension benefits, provided to spouses, as defined in the Defense of Marriage Act, are not available to domestic partners.
Overseas Work Permits
Individuals not on an employee's orders are not covered by bilateral work agreements negotiated between the Department of State and foreign countries. The specific terms of such agreements are negotiated with each country separately, and therefore, the specific wording and terms of individual agreements depend on such negotiations and the laws and regulations of the respective country. Members of household who intend to work may ask the post Human Resources Office about the procedures involved in securing a local work permit. Completion of paperwork and payment of associated fees are the responsibility of the member of household. If you are an employee assigned overseas to a U.S. Mission and have a family member accompanying you who is not on orders, please contact the Family Liaison Office for more information about overseas work possibilities, including FLO's Global Employment Initiative program.
The term "child" for the purposes of the education allowance is defined in Standard Regulations 271g and 040m. Foreign Service employees often host nieces and nephews, grandchildren, or other relatives for a year abroad. It is important to understand that unless a child is on the employee's orders, they are NOT considered an eligible family member and therefore, are not eligible for educational allowance.
Travel to post and all other related travel (home leave / transfer / vacation) is not reimbursable by the USG for those accompanying Foreign Service employees on overseas assignments who are not on the employee's orders.
A person designated by the employee as a "member of their household" but who is not on the employee's official orders, may live with the employee, subject to security and local housing rules. Employees are responsible for the individuals living in their residences. Housing is determined in accordance with FAM regulations.
Employees must report all cohabiting Foreign Nationals to the Regional Security Officer and to HR/CDA within one month of the start of the cohabitation (see Department Notice March 13, 2001 and 3 FAM 4100, Appendix B, Part 629.2-5).
Access to Community Liaison Office (CLO) Services
Post's Community Liaison Office Coordinator addresses quality of life issues through the CLO program, which provides a wide variety of services and resources aimed at maintaining morale within the mission community. Members of Household receive all CLO services and resources.
Access to Mission Health Unit
Individuals not on an employee's orders are not covered by the Foreign Service medical insurance program. However, the Health Unit may be able to provide names of local physicians who can provide medical services. This kind of assistance from the Health Unit may also be requested during the bidding process, to determine if a post has adequate local health care providers to meet the medical needs of a member of household.
Access to the Department of State's OpenNet Plus Intranet and Internet
5 FAM 780 provides for individual access to OpenNet Plus (which includes the Internet) to members of household (MOHs) of U.S. Direct Hire (USDH) employees assigned to the post. OpenNet Plus access is a privilege, not a right.
Evacuation from Post
During an authorized or ordered evacuation, individuals who are not listed on the employee's orders are not entitled to paid evacuation travel or evacuation Subsistence Expense Allowance (SEA) benefits. American citizens, however, are informed of the status of an evacuation by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate and are entitled to the services provided by the Bureau of Consular Affairs. See Evacuation FAQs.
Foreign Service Children at the age of 21
Children retain the status of eligible family member until they turn 21. Once a child turns 21, he/she can no longer remain on the parent(s) orders and is considered a Member of Household. An adult child who is incapable of being independent due to special needs can remain on parents' orders. See family member definitions in 14 FAM 511.3.
A Foreign Service child who marries before the age of 21 receives no benefit coverage in any category as a family member. Marriage confers adult status.
A family member who turns 21 is no longer eligible for any allowances (except for educational travel up to the 23rd birthday, plus additional years allowed for any military service, per subchapter 280 of the Standardized Regulations /Government Civilians, Foreign Areas), or coverage under the health unit, for medical or emergency evacuations. For example, if the family member is still in undergraduate college in the U.S. (or affiliated "junior year abroad" program), the family member will continue to receive the educational travel allowance until he/she turns 23 or graduates from undergraduate studies. If the family member has served in the military, he/she would not have been considered a dependent during his/her military service and can extend his/her period of eligibility by the number of years of service, for educational travel allowances only, provided it is established that the family member would normally live with the employee/parent if not attending college. If the employee is assigned to the United States, the family member will not be included on orders for the next post.
When an employee is heading to a new post (on Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders), a child approaching the age of 21 may be included on the transfer orders. However, return travel to the U.S. can only be authorized if the child actually traveled to post under the transfer orders prior to reaching age 21 (14 FAM 532.3-2 ). Generally, the first Post Assignment Travel (formerly TMFour) order issued after the 21st birthday (whether home leave and return to post or transfer to a new post) would include the authorization for return travel to the employee's service separation residence (from the employee's most recent approved OF-126). If final travel back to the U.S. is needed earlier, advance travel in accordance with 14 FAM 532.3-6 may be requested.
Federal Health Insurance for Foreign Service Children Over the Age of 22
Due to changes under the Health Care Reform/Affordable Care Act, and beginning January 1, 2011, children of Federal enrollees will be covered by their parent's FEHB Self and Family enrollment until their 26th birthday (plus a 31-day temporary extension of coverage), even if the child previously lost coverage because he or she turned 22. Although married children are eligible for Federal Health Care Insurance until the age of 26, your child's spouse and/or child do not qualify. For more information, please visit the OPM site at (http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/aca/).
The Federal Employee Health Benefit (FEHB) program has a Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC) program whereby a child can receive temporary continued health insurance benefits for an additional cost after regular coverage ends. To arrange TCC for your child, the employee must notify his or her employer within 60 days after the child reaches 26 years of age. You may then choose a plan (for which he or she is eligible), option, and type of enrollment. A SF2809 form must be filed. The length of Temporary Continuation of Coverage is available for up to 36 months after the change in status is reported. Persons eligible to participate in the FEHB TCC program must contact the Retirement Office (HR/RET) and speak with the TCC Coordinator at (202) 261-8960. The Retirement Office will process the application for TCC, determine eligibility and certify TCC information. You and your child are responsible for the monthly payments.
Children who lose coverage due to reaching age 26 are eligible for TCC for up to 36 months even if they previously had TCC. If you are a child of an FEHB enrollee and you are now enrolled under Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC), you may no longer need your TCC enrollment since you will be covered under your parent’s Self and Family enrollment. Once you are assured of coverage under your parent’s Self and Family enrollment, you may want to cancel your TCC enrollment. To cancel your TCC, contact the National Finance Center at 800-242-9630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bringing Parents to Post Who Are Not on Your Orders:
If your parents are not financially dependent on you, they may travel to post and live with an employee as members of the employee's household, but will receive no official support from the U.S. Government. No official support translates into no access to U.S. embassy facilities, including the health unit, no airfare or allowance payments in the case of evacuation from post, and no diplomatic status with the host country.
The Department of State Office of Medical Services has a brochure entitled Medical Questions and Answers about Taking Your Parent Overseas. The brochure addresses the questions of obtaining prescription medicines overseas, high altitude climates and the elderly, health unit access, hospitalization overseas, and more. For a copy of the brochure or more information about medical questions related to taking your parent overseas, contact the Office of Medical Services, Foreign Programs (MED/FP).
Medical Insurance and Air Medevac Insurance
It is essential that individuals not under the care of the U.S. Mission medical program have adequate medical insurance when living overseas.
Please note for parents: Medicare only pays medical expenses in the United States, and in Canada and Mexico under certain very limited circumstances.
The insurance companies listed below provide a variety of coverage and can be contacted for more information. Pay special attention to "age limit" noted in the policy.
Clements and Company
Under its GlobalCare Plus program, Clements and Company provides overseas major medical insurance, including full world-wide evacuation services. Coverage is offered for individuals as well as families. Substantial coverage is available at a reasonable cost. GlobalCare Plus is for policies lasting 6 months to one year. Clements also write policies for shorter-term travel (15 days to 4 months) through Patriot Travel Medical Insurance.
Clements and Company
1660 L Street NW, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: 1-800-872-0067 or 202-872-0600
Web site: http://www.clements.com
Blue Cross/Blue Shield
Provides coverage to Americans living abroad only through the local offices where the clients have residence. Insurance may be purchased while the client is overseas.
CareFirst BlueCrossBlueShield (Washington, DC Area)
550 12th Street NW
Washington, DC 20065
Web site: http://www.bluecrossblueshield.com
Provides only supplemental coverage including a hospital deposit repay, medical referral, evacuation to facilities for treatment, legal assistance, and a toll-free hotline. Medical centers are located throughout the world.
International SOS Assistance
P.O. Box 11568
Philadelphia, PA 19116
Telephone: 1-800-523-8930 or 215-244-1500
Web site: http://www.internationalsos.com/en/
Allianz Global Assistance
Allianz Travel Insurance, formerly Access America, is the travel insurance brand of Allianz Global Assistance. Allianz Global Assistance is a global provider of travel insurance and assistance with offices in 28 countries and is owned by Allianz, the world's largest insurance company (Fortune).
P.O. Box 71533
Richmond, VA 23286-4684
Fax: 1-800-346-9265 (Customer Service Inquiries)
In addition, individuals not on an employee's orders should also maintain Air Medical Evacuation Insurance. A list of companies that provide this insurance can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs web site at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/tips_1232.html#health as well as other medical/health related information for international travelers.
U.S. Citizen Services Overseas
The Bureau of Consulate Affairs Internet web site has information for U.S. citizens living abroad at http://travel.state.gov. The site contains a wealth of information, including: Medical information, Help for Americans Abroad, Foreign Entry Requirements, and Voting Assistance Abroad (http://www.fvap.gov).
Offices and Organizations
Family Liaison Office
U.S. Department of State
Harry S Truman Building
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Tel: 202-647-1076, 1-800-440-0397
Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA)
Information provided by the Family Liaison Office
Contact the Family Liaison Office