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Department of State Standardized Regulations -(Last updated 08/01/2021)

OMNIBUS EXHIBIT (Interim eff. 06/28/2021; 08/01/2021 Final TL:SR 1026)

The following is general information based on the applicable DSSR chapters.  Agency implementing regulations should also be referenced.

PA - Post Allowance (DSSR 220)

·         The post allowance is a cost-of-living allowance granted to an employee 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. 

·         The amount of the allowance is a percentage of “spendable income” - that is, the portion of basic compensation available after deductions for taxes, gifts and contributions, savings (including insurance and retirement) and U.S. shelter and household utility expenses.  Post allowance is not taxable.

·         Post allowance cannot be paid at the same time as Temporary Quarters Subsistence Allowance (TQSA)

·         Steps in calculating a post allowance:


(a)  DSSR 920, Locate Post (Cost of Living Allowance) Class for post of assignment.


(b)  DSSR 229.1 Post Allowance Payment Table (ranging from one person to six or more persons in family).  Determine                 appropriate table by number of persons in family residing at post)


(c)  DSSR 229.1, locate employee’s annual salary on appropriate payment table


(d)  DSSR 229.1, locate annual post allowance rate (on appropriate payment table, the amount at the intersection of the employee’s annual salary and post class percentage).


(e)  Daily post allowance rate = annual post allowance rate (“d” above) divided by days in calendar year.  (Note:  For teachers paid on a school year basis, see DSSR 724.3.)


(f)  Bi-Weekly post allowance rate = daily rate determined in (“e”) above times 14


(g)  Post allowance rate for any other period = daily rate determined in (“e”) times number of days



SMA - Separate Maintenance Allowance (DSSR 260) (eff. 8/30/2009 TL:SR 715)


·         Three types of SMA:  Voluntary (“convenience of employee”) ("VSMA"); Involuntary (“convenience of the government”)("ISMA"); and Transitional (following termination of an evacuation or in connection with commencement/termination of an unaccompanied tour)("TSMA")


·         Unless designated otherwise by head of agency, family members on SMA are considered to be officially residing in the U.S.


·         If a foreign area is officially designated for involuntary SMA, a child may be eligible for education allowance at the foreign location (DSSR 262.3b).


·         VSMA/ISMA:  Initial election for each family member at time of assignment to foreign location:  (a) put family member(s) on orders and take them to post or (b) put family member(s) on SMA.  Note:  under voluntary SMA the employee can make one change after the initial election ONLY ONCE DURING A TOUR OF DUTY (see exception at DSSR 264.2(b) for situation following termination of authorized/ordered departure - evacuation).  Check agency definition of tour of duty.


·         DSSR 263 lists circumstances not warranting SMA


·         Except for reasons stated in DSSR 262.4a, cannot make change of election in first or last 90 days at a post


·         Voluntary SMA age for child is limited to under 18 unless in secondary school; Involuntary SMA age for child is limited to under 21


·         Voluntary SMA:  family members cannot reside within same country as employee or within 300 miles (one-way road mileage) of the employee.  Note:  This rule does not apply to Involuntary SMA.


·         For SMA, a special definition of “member of family” applies to parents, brothers and sisters of the employee, spouse or domestic partner.  They must have resided with the employee for a period of at least 12 months immediately prior to the date of application (agencies may waive the 12-month co-residency requirement if the employee's immediate previous posting was unaccompanied or employee's onward posting is unaccompanied). 


·         Annual SMA rates for Voluntary and Involuntary SMA are listed under DSSR 267.1.   Reductions when government quarters or special benefits are available to family members are listed under DSSR 267.2.


·         When an employee is transferred from a post where SMA has been granted, he or she must re-apply for SMA for next foreign post (DSSR 266.2).



EDT - Educational Travel (DSSR 280)


·         Educational Travel may be used for a child in secondary school (grades 9-12) or in a full-time post-secondary (academic, technical or vocational) school program. 


·         Only one round trip is allowed in a twelve- month period.  The first leg of educational travel may start from either the post or school.


·         An anniversary date is established when child first travels from post or school under educational travel (“first leg”).  When the child returns to post or school depending on the first leg, this (“second leg”) completes one annual round trip.  The child cannot travel under educational travel until the anniversary date is again reached (however, there is a 30-day window for travel prior to the anniversary date to allow for varying school opening and closing dates).  Employee would be reimbursed for such travel after the anniversary date has passed.


·         Both “legs” of travel must be used between anniversary dates.  That is, “legs” cannot be carried forward if not used during the 12-month period between anniversary dates.


·         Anniversary date remains unchanged if employee transfers from one foreign post to another without a break in service or if employee is transferred to the U.S. for less than a year.  If employee is assigned to U.S. for more than one year, anniversary date is then reestablished once employee goes to next foreign post.


·         Child cannot travel to post under educational travel if employee will be transferred to U.S. or commencing home leave within 30 days of child’s travel to foreign post.


·         Educational travel is available to a child who “normally resides” with the employee except for being at school and may extend through age 22 (prior to age 23).  If child's education is delayed by military service, the period of eligibility may be extended beyond age 22 (see section 284).


·         Note:  If a child on employee’s orders goes directly to school and the employee goes to a foreign post, child may later travel from school to post on those orders (cost-constructive basis) if travel on orders commences prior to the child's 21st birthday.  This is not use of educational travel.



*PD - Post Hardship Differential (DSSR 500) (Interim eff. 06/28/2021; 08/01/2021 Final TL:SR 1026)


·         Post hardship differential rates are listed in DSSR Section 920, under heading of Post (Hardship) Differential.  The “lead agency” (see DSSR 920 reporting requirements link) should coordinate with all agencies at post to submit a well-rounded Post Hardship Differential Questionnaire (DS-267). 


·         Environmental conditions in the foreign location are reported on the DS-267.  The questionnaire is then evaluated and measured against standards for the continental United States.  Points are given when conditions are significantly worse than in the United States. 


·         Post hardship differential percentages are determined by the total points warranted based on the DS-267.  The post hardship differential levels are 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 or 35% (maximum allowed by law) above basic compensation (DSSR definition 040k).  It is subject to federal tax.


·         For employees permanently assigned to a hardship differential post, refer to DSSR 531, 532 and 533 for commencement, termination and continuation of the post hardship differential.  Personnel from a US or non-foreign area post of assignment on detail (see DSSR 511c) at a hardship differential post, refer to DSSR 540 for continuation and termination of the post hardship differential when away from the detailed post.


·         To be eligible for post hardship differential when on detail at a foreign post, an employee must be eligible for post hardship differential at his/her foreign post of assignment or be on extended detail from a U.S. or non-foreign area post of assignment (DSSR 031.3).


·         When detailed from a foreign post of assignment (DSSR 530) - If an employee assigned to a foreign post is detailed to another differential (or non-differential) post, his or her permanent post hardship differential rate will “carry” for the first 30 consecutive days.  After the 30th day, post hardship differential will be paid at the rate for each detail hardship differential post, however, see DSSR 533b when detailed to a DSSR Section 920 post with a “footnote n” designation.


·         When detailed from a US or non-foreign area post of assignment (DSSR 540) - To be eligible for post hardship differential when on detail from a US or non-foreign area post of assignment, an employee must accumulate 30 days at one or more posts with a post hardship differential rate of 5% or higher.  The differential is paid starting from the 31st day (and not for the initial 30 days), however, see DSSR 541.3 if detailed to a DSSR Section 920 post with a “footnote n” designation.


·         Post hardship differential is paid only on days the employee is paid basic compensation.


DP - Danger Pay (DSSR 650) (12/13/2015 TL:SR 879)


·         Danger Pay posts are indicated by footnote letters next to the Hardship Differential rates in Column 6, Section 920.  The actual Danger Pay rates are listed in the footnotes section.


·         Danger Pay may be paid when permanently assigned or detailed to a danger pay post. 


·         DSSR 652f danger pay is based on Department of State’s review of security information (no longer on post reporting using DS-578, as formerly). The percentages are 15, 25, or 35 percent of basic compensation (DSSR 040k).  The danger pay allowance of 25% or higher applies only when family members are not allowed at post. 


·         Danger pay is subject to federal tax.


·         DSSR 652g danger pay may be granted once U.S. military forces are designated to receive imminent danger pay and the post has met circumstances defined by the Secretary of State.  This is a specialized danger pay only for civilians who accompany U.S. military forces.  The payment is the same as that paid to U.S. military forces for imminent danger pay.


·         DSSR 652f and 652g danger pay are not paid at the same time.


·         DSSR 652g danger pay and post differential which contains political violence credit (listed in DSSR 920 footnote “v”) will not be paid at the same time.


·         DSSR 652f danger pay and post differential may be paid at the same time since the political violence points have been removed from the post differential when this type danger pay is established.  Sometimes post differential will be reduced when political violence points are removed when 652f danger pay is established.


·         Danger pay is paid only for hours for which basic compensation is paid.