The U.S. Coast Guard has updated the Family Separation Allowance (FSA-S) policy for members who are assigned to cutters. The new policy became effective Jan. 1, 2021.
If a member who has dependents is ordered to remain aboard a vessel while it is homeported - whether it is before, during or after a deployment - that amount of time can be credited towards the $250 FSA-S eligibility.
For example, if a cutter is scheduled for a 30-day deployment, but the crew is ordered to report aboard the cutter early to quarantine due to COVID concerns, that pre-deployment period is now creditable towards FSA-S.
Normally, FSA-S eligibility requires that members with dependents be away from home port for 30 consecutive days in order to qualify. But if for whatever reason, crewmembers are ordered to remain aboard while in home port, that period of time is now added to the total amount.
If a crewmember goes ashore during the time when they are ordered to remain aboard, the 30-day eligibility period resets. The only exceptions are the following circumstances:
- Immediate transfer with no delay in reporting (other than necessary travel time) to another vessel that is away from home port or if in home port, the crew has been ordered to remain aboard.
- Immediate transfer with no delay in reporting (other than necessary travel time) to inpatient hospitalization.
- Immediately begin travel with no delay in reporting (other than necessary travel time) to a TDY station at a place not in the vicinity of their dependents.
The new policy stems from the recently enacted 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which contains a provision that authorizes the calculation of family separation allowance to account for quarantine periods.