Entitlement to High Cost Area Rate for Housing and Cost of Living Allowances

B-196859: Feb 19, 1980

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An advance decision was sought concerning an award made to a civilian Air Force employee under the Back Pay Act. The question was whether the employee was entitled to receive allowances provided to compensate for being assigned to a high cost area when the employee was not present at the high cost area during a period of wrongful dismissal. The employee was dismissed from her position at an Air Force base in Japan for unsatisfactory performance of duty. She returned to the United States, appealed her dismissal, and was awarded retroactive restoration and backpay under the Act. At the time of dismissal, the employee was receiving compensation for an assignment to a high cost area. The Air Force paid the backpay award, but withheld the living allowances because she did not physically remain in the location giving rise to the allowance. This question had arisen in a similar case considered by the Court of Claims. Based on the decision of the court in that case, GAO held that the employee in the incident case was entitled to receive payment of the withheld living allowances. Accordingly, the employee's voucher was returned for payment.

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