What is Family Separation Allowance?
Family Separation Allowance (FSA) is for qualifying members of the military and their immediate family. It is a monthly allowance of $250 made to an active person in the military who has a dependent and is on temporary duty (TDY) for more than 30 days. The extra income helps with expenses while the service member is away. There are three different types of FSA: a Restricted allowance, a Temporary allowance, and a Ship allowance. To receive the FSA, the soldier must fill out DD Form 1561, Statement to Substantiate Payment of Family Separation Allowance, and submit it to their servicing personnel office.
Types of Family Separation Allowance
There are three different types of Family Separation Allowance.
- FSA-R (Family Separation Allowance-Restricted) – dependents do not live near the soldier’s duty station, and the government will not reimburse their transportation costs to an area near the duty station. Military members may also apply for FSA-R if transportation is allowed, but due to medical reasons, the dependent cannot accompany the soldier during a tour of duty.
- FSA-T (Family Separation Allowance-Temporary) –active members of the military who are on temporary duty consistently for more than 30 days and are away from their dependents, who cannot reside on the TDY station. A soldier who is deployed for longer than 30 days on temporary additional duty may also be eligible for FSA-T.
- FSA-S (Family Separation Allowance-Ship) –an active member of the military is aboard ship and away from the homeport for more than 30 continuous days. Dependents are not required to live on the duty station.
Determining eligibility for Military Family Separation Allowance
To be eligible for FSA, the military member must have dependents. A dependent may be a spouse or a child. The military member must be aboard ship or on TDY or temporary additional duty for more than 30 consecutive days. If the soldier is on temporary duty, his or her dependents must live more than 50 miles from the duty station.
Military personnel may also be entitled to Family Separation Allowance if their dependents must evacuate a duty station due to danger. The government pays FSA for the time the dependents temporarily live in government quarters at a designated safe haven. The safe haven can be anywhere in the world, provided it is named in the relevant evacuation order or a modification to that order.
Military members and their dependents must also meet one of the two following transportation qualifications.
- Transportation of the dependent or dependents is not authorized as a government expense, and the dependent does not live near or on the duty station.
- Transportation reimbursement is authorized, but the dependent cannot accompany the military member due to medical reasons.
In certain circumstances, military personnel and their dependents may be ineligible for FSA. Military families cannot receive FSA, if
- The only dependent is incarnated or in an institution for more than one year
- The only dependent is a spouse and is legally separated from the military member
- A child is in the custody of another party unless the military member has at least 50 percent joint physical custody with the second party
- The soldier has joint custody of any dependent, but it does not exceed 50 percent physical custody.
FSA accrues the moment the soldier deploys from the service station and stops the day before planned arrival back to the service station. The FSA will stop due to any dependents moving to or near the duty station, or visiting the duty station for longer than 30 consecutive days. The amount received per month is $250. The amount is prorated at $8.33 per day for periods under a month.
There are rules which apply when a dependent visit’s an active service member of the military. Without ruining one’s eligibility for FSA, the dependent and service member must follow these rules.
- FSA-R – Dependents can visit the active service member on the duty station for up to three consecutive months. There must be proof of visitation and not residential change. When the visit exceeds 30 days past the three months, FSA will cease. The FSA will be able to begin again, once the dependent leaves the duty station. If there are more than one dependent, and only one dependent visits, the soldier is still entitled to FSA for the remaining dependents who are not visiting.
- FSA-T – Any dependent who visits for less than 30 consecutive days must show proof they are visiting and not changing residents. When the visit exceeds 30 days, the FSA ceases, and they will not receive any FSA for the entire period. The only time this is extended, is when the visitor becomes ill and cannot leave the duty station on time. The soldier is entitled to payments if only one of the dependents is visiting.
- FSA-S – Any dependent is allowed to visit the port for less than 30 days to remain eligible for FSA-S. In the case the visit exceeds 30 days, the payments will stop until the dependent leaves the port. The service member is entitled to FSA if only one of the dependents is visiting.
When a couple is married, and both are active in the military on duty assignments, they are eligible for FSA payments. Each person in the marriage when active will receive the $250 per month as long as they resided together before being assigned to duty. If one member is no longer active or assigned to duty, then only the active soldier who is on an assignment is eligible.
A wounded soldier is entitled to Family Separation Allowance immediately following their injury date, or continuing after they are injured. The program known as the Pay and Allowance Continuation Program (PAC), allows the injured soldier to receive the FSA regardless of visitation of any dependent not exceeding 30 days. If the visit exceeds 30 days, the FSA will cease until the dependent leaves the duty station.
FSA benefit highlights
The reason for Family Separation Allowance is to provide extra compensation for expenses incurred due to the active service member’s separation from their family. Soldiers are eligible for FSA provided they meet the requirements listed for a specific type of FSA. Eligibility ceases when the conditions no longer apply, but may be reinstated if those conditions are met again. FSA is an extra benefit for military members and their dependents and is helpful to military families with loved ones who are on active duty.
Given the overall benefits of the Family Separation Allowance, eligible soldiers should consider applying for it. This extra pay helps the families and the active service member while they are on duty. Filing DD Form 1561 is the only step necessary to apply for these benefits. Provided all the conditions are met, the service member is entitled to the pay.