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Office of Allowances

Frequently Asked Questions
Transitional Separate Maintenance Allowance (TSMA)


QUESTIONS

TSMA AFTER END OF AN EVACUATION 

1. Q: My family and I were evacuated six months ago and I have been leasing a furnished apartment in a high rise building. I'd like to move to a rental house that is less expensive. Can I do this and still receive Transitional Separate Maintenance Allowance (TSMA)?

2. Q:  Even after my family moves, they will have a lot of extraordinary expenses (like furniture rental) until they receive the full Household Effects (HHE) shipment. When will my TSMA payments stop?

3. Q:  Even if my spouse or domestic partner, who is still at post, ships some of our HHE right away; it will still probably take more than 60 days to get here. How do I extend the TSMA to 90 days?

 
 
7. Q:  How do you know when my "complete" HHE has arrived?
 
 
 
 
TSMA IN CONNECTION WITH AN UNACCOMPANIED TOUR
 


QUESTIONS

TSMA AFTER END OF AN EVACUATION 

1.Q: My family and I were evacuated six months ago and I have been leasing a furnished apartment in a high rise building. I'd like to move to a rental house that is less expensive. Can I do this and still receive Transitional Separate Maintenance Allowance (TSMA)?

A: Yes, you and your family can move to a less expensive commercially-leased rental house as long as it is a "transition" residence prior to occupying your permanent residence. If this move to the less expensive rental house is intended to be your permanent residence, then you will not be eligible for TSMA but only eligible for the "regular" Voluntary or Involuntary SMA rates in the Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR) section 267.1.

2. Q:  Even after my family moves, they will have a lot of extraordinary expenses (like furniture rental) until they receive the full Household Effects (HHE) shipment. When will my TSMA payments stop?

A: If this residence is considered temporary ("transitional") and commercially-leased, then TSMA payments may be paid for up to 60 calendar days awaiting your full HHE shipment.

3. Q:  Even if my spouse or domestic partner, who is still at post, ships some of our HHE right away; it will still probably take more than 60 days to get here. How do I extend the TSMA to 90 days?

A: The employee at post should submit an SF-1190 to the appropriate agency official ahead of the end of the initial 60 day period to request an extension of TSMA payments for the additional 30 days.

One example of extreme or unusual circumstances is that the employee has made every effort to get the full HHE shipment to the family but the full shipment has not been delivered due to restrictions or difficulties beyond the employee's control.

4. Q: Are the TSMA amounts different for days 61 through 90?

A: Yes, the TSMA rates for days 61 through 90 are $58 for 1 or 2 eligible family members and $68 for 3 or more eligible family members.

5. Q: Is TSMA taxable?

A: No. TSMA is considered the same as SMA which is not subject to federal or state income taxes.

6. Q: What if I get some of our furniture from storage and also have some of our HHE shipped. Would I still be eligible for TSMA after I get the items from storage, but until the HHE arrives?

A: If you are still in temporary commercial lodging, you are eligible for TSMA for up to 60 days or until your "full" HHE is delivered.

7. Q: How do you know when my "complete" HHE has arrived?

A: The employee should notify the appropriate agency official to inform them of the date the family received the "complete" or "full" HHE. TSMA must terminate on the date the full HHE is delivered to the family.

 Please note that the USG is not responsible to move an HHE shipment from a temporary residence to the subsequent (permanent) residence, therefore, it would be good to coordinate delivery of HHE to a permanent residence.

8. Q: Is TSMA paid automatically once it commences?

A: Yes. Once an employee has submitted an SF-1190 and it has been processed, payments commence via the payroll process and continue automatically until the employee notifies the appropriate bureau or agency official to terminate the allowance.

9. Q: Once TSMA is terminated, what are my options?

A: You must apply for voluntary or involuntary SMA depending on why TSMA was authorized by completing the SF-1190 and submitting it to the appropriate agency.  The current voluntary and involuntary SMA amounts may be found in DSSR 267.

10. Q: Is there anything else available following termination of TSMA?

A: For your school age children (grades K through 12), according to DSSR 276.23, the employee may be able to request the applicable "away from post"education allowance [for the employee's post of assignment] for his/her child in lieu of involuntary SMA. If the child is in the United States, no away from post education allowance is available if there is a parent (natural, adoptive, step) also resident in the U.S. or on voluntary SMA.  Depending on why TSMA was approved, family members may be eligible for involuntary SMA. 

11. Q: What if my family is at an alternate approved foreign safehaven at the end of the evacuation. Can I get TSMA for my family members in the foreign area?

A: If your family members are occupying temporary commercial quarters then they are eligible to receive TSMA.

 However, if they are in non-commercial quarters they are not eligible for TSMA. If they are not eligible for TSMA, they may be eligible for either voluntary SMA, involuntary SMA or away from post education allowance (see Q&A 9 and 10 for details).

12. Q: Can you give me examples of non-commercial quarters?

A: Non-commercial quarters are considered private residences such as living with family, friends or others in a location which is not commercially leased or rented.

13. Q: I understand you're not supposed to receive regular SMA unless you will be in that status for at least 90 days. I expect my spouse or domestic partner to be reassigned in a month or so. Am I still eligible for TSMA?

A: Your family is eligible for TSMA as long as they are in temporary commercial lodging.

However, if the employee is going to be transferred shortly to the U.S., you may wish to weigh the immediate benefit of TSMA versus the subsistence expense portion of the Home Service Transfer Allowance for family and employee once the employee gets back to the U.S.

If TSMA is used, the family will not be eligible for HSTA "unless official transportation was authorized permitting those family members to join the employee at the new post of assignment in the U.S." (DSSR 252.8). 
14. Q: I'm here in the U.S. on transfer orders from my former foreign post, where my family members were with me, to an unaccompanied post. They are at the eventual ISMA location searching for permanent quarters and I intend to apply for involuntary SMA for them. My orders are for transfer via home leave and training here. Can I get transitional SMA to help with the cost of my family's temporary commercial lodging while I'm still here? Or must I be at my onward post before that can happen?  

A: With transfer orders in hand for an unaccompanied tour, you can be granted transitional SMA for your family members' stay in temporary commercial lodging at their SMA location before your arrival at your onward post. While here in the U.S., you may apply in advance for involuntary SMA on their behalf as well, but that SMA is not payable until you depart for your onward post.