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Office of Allowances

Office of Allowances

Separate Maintenance Allowance

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
may be granted when an agency determines that adverse, dangerous, unhealthful living conditions, such as lack of medical facilities, warrant exclusion of your family from your post of assignment or when the agency determines that there is a need to exclude family members from accompanying an employee to the area. Children are eligible for Involuntary SMA until they reach 21 years of age.

Voluntary SMA
may be authorized when there are special family needs or hardship prior to or after arrival at post for reasons including but not limited to career, health, educational or family considerations for the spouse, children, or other family members. Dependent children must be under age 18 or incapable of self-support to receive voluntary SMA, unless they are attending secondary school. 

Transitional SMA may be paid for reasons following the termination of an evacuation (a) through (c) or in connection with commencement/termination of an unaccompanied tour of duty (d) and (e):  

(a) following termination of an evacuation and conversion of a post to an unaccompanied status; 

(b) following termination of an evacuation and reversion of post to accompanied status, to allow a child to complete the current academic term (i.e., semester, quarter); 

(c) following termination of an evacuation and reversion of post to accompanied status family members cannot return to post for reason(s) beyond the employee's control; 

(d) when family members must depart from an accompanied foreign post because the employee's next foreign post is unaccompanied; or 

(e) when family members on ISMA prepare to depart the ISMA point for the employee's next foreign post or domestic post (accompanied).   

The rates for Involuntary and Voluntary SMA are at DSSR 267.1aThe rates for Transitional SMA are at DSSR 267.1b

Please see DSSR 260 for details on each type of SMA. Note carefully the limits on some types of SMA, particularly the 90-day separation requirement and the one-change-of-election provision for VSMA; separation/divorce/dissolution; and legal-custody-of-child provisions.  ALDAC cable 17 State 65196 provides helpful information. 


SF-1190 (07/2009) - Foreign Allowances Application, Grant and Report
--SF-1190 example with instructions (Intranet ONLY)

OF-126 (12/2015) - Foreign Service Residence and Dependency Report

VSMA One-Change Rule Confirmation of Understanding (01/2009) (Intranet ONLY)

*Supplemental Page, attach to SF-1190

Voluntary SMA Certification (04/2017) (Intranet ONLY)

Involuntary SMA Certification (04/2017) (Intranet ONLY)

SMA Application Process (06/2017) (Intranet ONLY)


FAQ - Separate Maintenance Allowance

FAQ - Involuntary Separate Maintenance Allowance

FAQ - Transitional Separate Maintenance Allowance


Foreign Service Assignment Notebook

To apply for SMA, please contact the SMA Coordinator in your bureau of assignment using the following links (Intranet ONLY):

--INL or email at

--OBO contact Brian Allsbrook (