What is Miscellaneous Expense Allowance (MEA)?

Miscellaneous Expense Allowance (MEA)

The Miscellaneous Expense Allowance (MEA) is designed to assist federal employees with various out-of-pocket costs incurred during the relocation process. MEA aims to ease the financial burden associated with moving due to the shifting government duties and functions, covering expenses that are not directly related to the physical act of moving, but rather necessary to accommodate the transition. This provision reflects the government's recognition of the challenges faced by employees during relocation and its commitment to supporting them through these changes.

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The Miscellaneous Expense Allowance (MEA) has been a fundamental part of the U.S. federal government’s relocation support for employees. Historically, it aimed to ease the financial burden associated with moving. The recent proposal by the General Services Administration (GSA) to increase the MEA reflects an acknowledgment of the rising costs of relocation, and a commitment to ensuring that federal employees receive sufficient support during their moves, indicating a progressive approach to addressing the workforce’s needs in transition.

Understanding MEA

The Miscellaneous Expense Allowance (MEA) is designed to cover various non-transportation-related costs that federal employees may incur during relocation. This allowance includes expenses such as fees for disconnecting and reconnecting utilities, buying essential household items, and other miscellaneous costs that are part of settling into a new residence. The MEA aims to mitigate the financial impact of these sundry expenses, offering a form of support that acknowledges the broader scope of relocation challenges beyond mere moving costs.

Current State and Proposed Changes

The current MEA structure provides federal employees with the option of a lump sum payment or itemized reimbursement for certain relocation expenses. However, recent proposals suggest adjustments to these amounts as well as the reimbursement process, aiming to better reflect the actual costs of moving and living adjustments. These proposed changes are designed to enhance support for employees, ensuring the MEA keeps pace with the economic realities of relocation.

Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria for the Miscellaneous Expense Allowance (MEA) are specific to federal employees undergoing official relocation. Generally, those moving for work-related assignments can qualify for MEA, but the exact criteria can vary based on agency policies and the nature of the relocation. Employees need to consult their agency’s relocation guidelines to understand their eligibility and the documentation required to support their MEA claim.

Impact of Proposed Changes

The proposed changes to the Miscellaneous Expense Allowance (MEA) could significantly enhance the support provided to federal employees during relocation. By aligning the MEA more closely with the actual costs and challenges of moving, these adjustments likely reduce financial stress and make the transition smoother. Improved allowances also encourage a more positive outlook towards relocation assignments, supporting employee morale and facilitating the recruitment and retention of a talented federal workforce.


The proposed enhancements to the Miscellaneous Expense Allowance (MEA) signify a pivotal shift towards recognizing and addressing the real-world costs of federal employee relocations. These changes are poised to offer substantial support, reducing financial burdens and fostering a more seamless transition for employees moving for work. This initiative not only benefits the individuals directly involved but also strengthens the overall operational efficiency and morale within the federal workforce.

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