Authorization and payment of overseas allowances and differential is governed by the provisions of the Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR)(Government Civilians/Foreign Areas) and Department of Defense Instruction 1400.25, Volume 1250. Overseas Allowances and differentials (except post allowance) are not automatic salary supplements, nor are they entitlements.
They are specifically intended to be recruitment incentives for U.S. citizen employees living in the United States to accept Federal employment in a foreign area. If a person is already living in a foreign area, the inducement is normally unnecessary. Under limited circumstances, an employee hired outside of the United States may become eligible for allowances. Selectees should be advised of their eligibility for allowances at the time an offer is made. Following is a brief description of some the allowances you may receive during your tour of duty in a foreign area. The Standard Form (SF) - 1190, Application for Foreign Allowances, Grant, and Report, and perspective worksheets are used to apply for foreign area allowances.
The Predeparture Subsistence Expense Portion of the FTA is granted to assist employees and accompanying dependents with the costs of temporary lodging, meals, laundry, and dry cleaning that are incurred when an employee transfers overseas from a post in the United States. The allowance may be granted for up to 10 days before final departure from the United States, beginning not more than 30 days after the employee has vacated permanent residence quarters. The 10 days may be taken anywhere in the United States as long as the employee and family members have not begun travel on orders and the final departure is from U.S. actual place of residence or post of assignment. There is no authorization to reimburse employees for any local transportation costs. Keep this in mind when deciding when to ship your vehicle.
For further information on this allowance, go to Section 240 of the DSSR.
The Miscellaneous Expense Portion of the FTA is to help cover "miscellaneous" expenses incident to a foreign assignment such as pet transportation; vehicle registration; driver's license; utility fees or deposits not offset by an eventual refund; and conversion of appliances. The flat amount for an employee without family is the lesser of either one-week's salary or $650. For an employee with family it is the lesser of two weeks' salary or $1,300. A higher rate is available if the employee provides itemized receipts. See DSSR 242 at the above website for precise calculations.
Note: Transferring employees (those currently working for the U.S. Government) are entitled to the Miscellaneous Expense Allowance under Chapter 5, Part B, of the Joint Travel Regulations, and must use a Travel Voucher or Subvoucher (DD Form 1351-2) to apply for reimbursement.
Up to three months' salary may be advanced when an employee is assigned to a foreign post. The employee can decide how to pay it back within limits. Salary advances must be paid back within 26 pay periods.
The purpose of TQSA is to assist with temporary lodging, meals, laundry and dry cleaning in a foreign area when an employee first arrives at a new post and permanent quarters are not yet available, or when an employee is getting ready to depart post permanently and must vacate residential quarters. An employee cannot receive the post (cost of living) allowance when receiving the TQSA. An employee may receive TQSA and LQA at the same time when departing post only with agency permission for unusual circumstances described at DSSR 124.1 and DSSR 132.41a.
For further information on TQSA, go to Section 120 of the DSSR.
The authorization and payment of post allowance is governed by the provisions of Chapter 200 of the Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR). Post allowance is a cost-of-living allowance granted to full-time employees officially stationed at a post in a foreign area where the cost of living, exclusive of quarters costs, is substantially higher than in Washington, D.C. Part-time, intermittent, and U.S. family member winter/summer hire employees are not eligible for post allowance. The post allowance is paid to eligible full-time employees even though they may not be eligible for LQA, post differential or other allowances. Post allowance is non taxable income.
When married couple employees without family members are both eligible for the post allowance, each may be granted the post allowance in Section 229 for one person. When married couple employees with family members are both eligible for the post allowance, one employee spouse, at his/her option, may receive the post allowance for family members. The other employee may be granted the post allowance for one person only. Civilian employees who are spouses of military members receiving a cost of living allowance (COLA) at the "with family" rate will be granted the post allowance for the "without family" rate for one person only.
The post allowance rate is determined by the post classification of the employee’s post, his/her salary, family size, and the applicable annual rate prescribed in Section 229.1 of the DSSR. Your personnel center representative should be able to advise you if a post allowance is currently authorized at your post of assignment. If a post allowance is authorized and you are currently a full-time employee not receiving a post allowance, you may submit a completed SF-1190, Foreign Allowances Application, Grant, and Report, through the DoDEA Allowance Processing System (DAPS) to initiate your post allowance. Completion of the SF-1190 provides the necessary information to determine the correct amount of post allowances based on family members residing at the post. However, if you are married to a civilian employee who is currently claiming you for post allowance, then your civilian spouse must concurrently make an adjustment to his/her post allowance authorization to delete you as a family member as there can be no duplication of benefits.
For further information on post allowance, go to Section 220 of the DSSR.
The LQA is provided to eligible employees for leased quarters in lieu of Government provided housing and is intended to cover the average cost of rent, utilities and other allowable expenses. A maximum LQA is established for each post abroad based on the employee’s grade, quarter's group and family size. Reimbursement of LQA expenses will not exceed the authorized annual cost of rent and utilities or the maximum rate set by the Department of State, whichever is the lesser amount. LQA is non taxable.
When quarters occupied by an employee are owned by the employee, or the spouse, or both, an amount of up to 10 percent of the original purchase price (converted to U.S. dollars at the original exchange rate ) of such quarters shall be considered the annual rate of the employee's estimated expenses for rent. Only the expenses for heat, light, fuel, (including gas and electricity), water, garbage and trash disposal and in rare cases land rent, may be added to determine the employee's quarters allowance up to the maximum authorized. The amount of the rental portion of the allowance (up to 10 percent of the original purchase price) is limited to a period not to exceed ten years at which time the employee will be entitled only to utility expenses, garbage and trash disposal, plus land rent if applicable.
LQA payment is reflected bi-weekly on the employee's Leave and Earnings Statement as nontaxable income. LQA is computed by dividing the authorized annual expenses by 365 days (366 in a leap year) to obtain a daily rate. The daily rate is then multiplied by 14 to obtain the bi-weekly rate. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) makes payments to employees in US dollars, using the authorized foreign currency expenses and then converting the amount to US dollars using an exchange rate provided to their office. DFAS automatically adjusts LQA payments each pay period when there are changes in Department of State maximum rates or foreign currency conversion rates. For personally owned quarters, the rental portion (10 percent of the purchase price) of the LQA is converted to US dollars using the exchange rate that was in effect on the date of purchase. Therefore, the biweekly amounts for the rental portion will not normally fluctuate unless there is a change to the maximum rate authorized.
Employees are responsible for reporting any changes that may affect their allowance authorization. Below are some examples that affect an employee's allowances and should be reported by submitting an SF-1190 through DAPS as soon as possible after the event occurs to avoid any under/overpayments.
For further information on living quarters allowance, go to Section 130 of the DSSR.
The Department of State Standardized Regulations only requires employees to submit LQA reconciliations within 45 days of completion of their first year of occupancy in new, economy quarters. Therefore, it is important that employees in their first year in economy quarters keep all their utility bills, and/or receipts. No further reconciliations are required for those same quarters unless requested by the employee or management. The reconciliation process is required to reconcile the amounts paid to an employee versus the amounts the employee actually expended for allowable utilities. If an employee's actual expenses exceeded the amounts paid, the employee will be paid the difference up to the maximum allowable. If the employee's actual expenses are less than the amount paid, the employee will be indebted for that overpayment. Additionally, once the reconciliation is completed, the employee's LQA authorization will be adjusted to reflect actual expenses.
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.
Educational Travel may be authorized for the dependents of employees who are eligible for a living quarters allowance. This allowance permits one round trip annually between a school attended in the U.S. and the foreign post of assignment for dependents of employee who are under age 23 and attending college or a university on a full-time basis. This benefit is primarily intended to reunite a full-time student attending undergraduate college, technical or vocational school with the employee/parent serving the U.S. government in the foreign area. Requests for educational travel are submitted through the Travel Order Processing System.
For further information on the education travel allowance, go to Section 280 of the DSSR.
Employees must submit their requests for Temporary Quarters Subsistence Allowance (TQSA), Living Quarters Allowance (LQA), Foreign Transfer Allowance, Post Allowance, Post Differential and Advance Pay through the DoDEA Allowance Processing System (DAPS).
In addition to initiating and submitting application/grant forms and viewing their status, there is a HELP feature. When you click on the HELP Menu you will have access to four additional menu items: