Department of Defense Education Activity

Separate Maintenance Allowance (SMA)

SMA is designed to help an employee who is compelled by reasons of dangerous, notably unhealthful or excessively adverse living conditions at the foreign post of assignment, or for convenience of the Government, or because of family considerations, to defray the additional expense of maintaining family members at another location.

There are three types of SMA: Involuntary, Voluntary and Transitional. Involuntary SMA is paid when family members are prohibited from residing at the foreign post. Children are eligible for Involuntary SMA until they reach 21 years of age. Voluntary SMA is paid when family members may go to a foreign post but opt not to for personal reasons including but not limited to career, health, educational or family considerations for spouse and children. Children lose eligibility for voluntary SMA when they turn 18, unless they are still in secondary school (e.g., high school). The authorization of SMA for a family member is in lieu of any Government paid travel and allowances on behalf of that family member.

For further information on living quarters allowance, go to Section 260 of the DSSR.