Overseas salary misunderstanding


Q. I am a civilian employee who accepted a permanent Defense Department GS-07 Target 09 position overseas. The salary in the letter of offer/acceptance that I signed was $66,941 per year, which is the salary I was receiving from my former command, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The $66,941-per-year salary included the cost-of-living adjustment. Because the position is an emergency essential (EE), it took me several months to complete all the requirements. Three days after my household goods were picked up and two days before my original flight schedule, I received an email from the human resources specialist notifying me the change of my pay to $52,642 per year. Nothing further was required from me — not even my signature. I am now in the Middle East, and I just got my first leave and earnings statement with a salary of 52,642 per year. What course of action should I take so I can get the salary I signed for?

A. Employees don’t receive COLAs, so a portion of your $66,941 annual salary may actually be locality pay. Locality pay isn’t included when setting a salary rate for an overseas assignment. Rather, you are paid the RUS (rest of U.S.) rate for your grade and step. Check with your personnel office to see if what I am surmising is correct. Also ask them what allowances and differentials you may now be entitled to while stationed overseas.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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