Retirement and the Foreign Service Spouse

Retirement for Foreign Service Spouses Who Have Worked in Government Positions Overseas

Foreign Service spouses employed at U.S. missions overseas qualify for retirement benefits if hired on a Family Member Appointment (FMA). Those retirement benefits fall under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). Spouses hired on an FMA are also eligible to contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), a supplemental retirement savings and investment plan.

Spouses should review the resources below from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for determining eligibility for retirement. Also, OPM's information on retirement planning provides tips for what to do five-years, one year, six months, and two-months before retirement.

Retirement Courses for Department of State Employees

The FSI Transition Center's Career Transition Center hosts retirement planning courses for Department of State employees. Eligible family members may participate on a space available basis.

Survivor Benefits for Foreign Service Spouses

Survivor entitlements for the Department of State are handled by the Office of Retirement. See contact information under Highlights to the right.

Retirement Information for Former Spouses

Former Spouse Benefits Under the Foreign Service Retirement System

Additional Sources of Retirement Income

Foreign Service spouses who do not qualify for retirement benefits through the U.S. Federal government have many options for ensuring that basic living expenses are covered during the "retirement years." Whether you are receiving a retirement benefit through your work or not, the goal is to ensure a guaranteed income through dedicated financial planning. There are several ways to do this through work-related retirement accounts, annuities, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), Certificates of Deposit (CDs), mutual funds, and individual stocks and bonds. Also visit AARP's information on retirement planning.

Social Security

The Social Security Administration's Online Retirement Planner

Federal Insurance Programs

Federal Long Term Care Insurance
Federal Employees Health Benefits Program
Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance Program (FEGLI)
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)


This material is specific to Foreign Service employees and their families. 

Information provided by the Family Liaison Office
Contact the Family Liaison Office