Family Separation Allowance Now Covers COVID-19 Restriction of Movement Orders on Ships

Military members assigned to ships are now entitled to Family Separation Allowance, or FSA, if they are required to remain aboard ship under Restriction of Movement (ROM) or sequester orders prior to deployment and after return.

According to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, crewmembers and others assigned shipboard will begin the 30-day countdown for the $250 monthly allowance on the day they are required to remain shipboard, even if the ship remains moored pierside at its homeport for the normal 14-day ROM or longer. In the past, the 30-day eligibility period for FSA began on the date a ship left port, no matter how long a crew was restricted onboard prior to deployment.

The law also ensures that service members who are required to remain aboard after the ship returns to homeport as part of a COVID-19 sequestration will continue to receive the FSA until they are allowed to walk down that gangplank and reunite with their families.

The change affects military members who are entitled to Family Separation Allowance-Ship, or FSA-S. To be entitled to the monthly allowance, service members must be separated from their dependents due to serving on a ship that is operating away from its homeport for more than 30 days.

The benefit normally becomes payable on day 31 of deployment; in the past, it was retroactive to the date the ship departed. However, as a result of the new law, the 30-day separation rule begins on the date service members are required to remain shipboard either before, during or after deployment.

This allowance is payable only to service members with dependents.

Those who depart the ship for any period of time while the crew remains sequestered must restart the 30-day eligibility period after they return onboard, according to the legislation.

The new rule became effective Jan. 1, 2021. There is no retroactive payment allowed.

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