The U.S. military offers extra allowances for those who are required to be separated from their family–an “enforced separation” for mission requirements. Known generally as “family separation pay,” there are two basic types, but sorting them out can be a bit confusing.
The Family Separation Allowance (FSA)
FSA was created to provide funds for qualifying service members with dependents to help offset expenses associated with having to maintain two households due to an enforced family separation.
There isn’t just one type of FSA, there are two basic types (Type I and Type II) with different conditions under each.
When FSA Is Payable
In general FSA is offered under the following circumstances:
- Transportation of dependents (at government expenses) is not authorized AND your dependents do not live in the vicinity of your permanent duty station.
- Transportation of dependents is authorized at government expense, but you have elected an unaccompanied tour of duty “due to certified medical reasons” associated with the dependent(s).
- A sailor is on duty aboard a ship away from the homeport continuously for more than 30 days.
- You are on temporary duty (TDY) (or temporary additional duty) away from the permanent station for 30 days or more without dependents.
- FSA may be offered in cases where dependents are evacuated from a danger area and they “temporarily occupy government quarters at a safe haven area.”
How To Apply For FSA
Applying for FSA requires a completed DD Form 1561, Statement to Substantiate Payment of Family Separation Allowance (FSA).
Types Of FSA
Type I Family Separation Allowance (FSA)
Type I is offered to those with dependents who are separated for more than 30 days. FSA offers this payment under one of three “conditions” including FSA-restricted (FSA-R), FSA-Ship, and FSA Temporary.
FSA Restricted (FSH-R) requires the servicemember’s orders to meet certain requirements. The orders cannot include transportation of dependents at government expense and they must also not be located near the homeport or permanent duty station.
This type of separation allowance may also be granted in cases where transportation of dependents is provided for at government expense, but the service member chooses not to take advantage of the option “because a dependent cannot accompany the member to or at that homeport/permanent station due to certified medical reasons” according to the DoD.
FSA-Ship (FSA-S) requires duty aboard a ship that has been away from the home port for more than 30 consecutive days. DoD rules say you may be entitled to FSA-S in cases where the sailor “returns to homeport after the original deployment for a period of thirty days or less and redeploys for a period of more than thirty days”.
For this type of family separation allowance, dependents are not required to reside in the vicinity of the sailor’s homeport.
FSA-Temporary (FSA-T) This separation pay requires the service member to be on temporary duty (TDY) for more than thirty days and this must be a situation where the dependents are not residing at or near the TDY station.
A military member who is sent TDY to professional military education requiring in-residence work at the same military base she is assigned to (such as an Air Force Airman Leadership School, for example) may not necessarily earn the servicemember FSA-T even though they may be required to stay on base instead of family housing or report for training for extended periods of time.
If the dependents reside in the same location, that makes FSA-T payment unlikely. FSA is not exclusive–it is payable even with other allowances or per diem. But you are not allowed to double-dip. The service member “may not receive more than one payment of FSA for the same period” even when qualified for multiples under FSA-R, FSA-S, and FSA-T.
FSA Type II
Family Separation Allowance Type II is authorized for those who must be separated from their dependents for longer than 30 days. Serving on board a ship that is underway or away from the home port for more than 30 days qualifies the sailor for FSA Type II, and those who are on TDY (temporary duty) orders for longer than 30 days may also qualify (and the dependents are not living at or near the TDY location).
This includes training, which technically means that a service member qualifies for FSA-T (temporary) if separated from their dependents for 30 days or more in Basic Training.
The Family Separation For Housing (FSH)
FSH is confusing for two reasons; it seems to closely resemble the OTHER form of DoD compensation for a required separation of the service member from their family known as the Family Separation Allowance or FSA. Some DoD websites have documentation that seems to treat FSH and FSA interchangeably, but careful research shows these really are two different types of family separation pay.
The Department of Defense Describes Family Separation For Housing (FSH) pay as “compensation for additional housing expenses resulting from separation from their dependents” when the service member is assigned to an overseas base or in the United States, “when dependent travel is delayed or restricted.”
FSH is not permitted for any situation where the service member is “under permissive orders” or “when government quarters are available to the member.”
There are two varieties of FSH:
- FSH-BAH Based Locations (FSH-B) paid at the “without dependents” BAH rate
- FSH-OHA Based Locations (FSH-O) payable monthly up to the “without-dependents” Overseas Housing Allowance rate
Depending on the branch of military service, additional requirements may apply. Consider the additional rules for members of the Coast Guard, which state that FSH is NOT payable when the following conditions apply:
- A member’s permanent duty station is a career sea pay eligible vessel, shipboard quarters are available for assignment.
- A member elects not to occupy available assigned Government quarters and resides in a private-sector residence “for personal convenience.”
- An active duty member is married to another active duty member and they have no BAH eligible dependents.
- When a member’s housing allowance is based on the payment of child support.
To claim FSH, ask your unit orderly room, First Sergeant, Command Sergeant Major, or make an appointment with your base Finance office.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
|Military Allowance, Incentive, Bonus & Special Pay||Military Pay Calculator|
|Understanding Military Pay||Taxes on Military Pay & Allowances|
|Banks That Deposit Military Pay Early||Hardship Duty Pay: Restriction of Movement|