Separate Maintenance Allowance

Definition of Separate Maintenance Allowance

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. 

Separate Maintenance Allowance Rates

The rates for Involuntary and Voluntary SMA are at DSSR 267.1a.

To Request Separate Maintenance Allowance

To request Separate Maintenance Allowance, you must complete a SF-1190, Separate Maintenance Allowance Statement of Understanding, and a memorandum with justification requesting approval of this allowance.  The request for Separate Maintenance must be submitted through your new supervisor and approved by the head of agency.  If approved you will begin to receive payments in  your bi-weekly salary check.  Authorization will cease when no longer necessary. Please send all completed documentation with approval to

Commencement and Continuation of Grant

Upon Assignment to a New Post: The grant of ISMA or VSMA to an employee in connection with assignment to a new post shall commence as of the latest of the dates on which the:

  1. employee submits SF-1190 application for SMA grant, or
  2. employee begins official travel under an assignment order; or
  3. separation from the family member occurs