U.S. civilian employees stationed in Germany will receive more money in their next paycheck, thanks to a 40 percent increase in the cost-of-living stipend, according to the U.S. State Department.

At least for the time being, a similar increase has yet to materialize for U.S. civilians in other European countries where American troops are based, such as Belgium, Italy or the United Kingdom.

The same holds true for active-duty personnel, who receive a comparable stipend commonly referred to as COLA, or cost-of-living allowance, which is managed by the Defense Department, using State Department data.

But because adjustments to COLA and the civilian post allowance occur independently of each other, rate changes, whether up or down, can vary in terms of timing.

Joyce McNeil, a team leader with the State Department’s Office of Allowances, which is responsible for setting the rates for civilians, said the changes were made after receiving a biannual report on living costs from State Department employees in Germany.

The report, in conjunction with fluctuations in exchange rates, determines the amounts of allowances.

Biannual reports come in at different times from 620 locations around the world. Thus, changes happen at different times for different countries.

For example, there are three reporting regions in Germany, three in Italy, two in Belgium and two in the United Kingdom. The latest change for workers in Germany was effective Aug. 6, in response to the latest report from one of its regions.

Due to workload and late reporting, it cannot be determined at this time when rate changes might be made for other countries. For example, the State Department’s Audrey Thurman told Stripes on Thursday, one of the U.K.’s regions, Oxfordshire, is being calculated now, and Belgium’s biannual reports aren’t due until March.

Still, exchange rates can drive a change after any two-week period.

Fluctuations in the foreign currency rate often “is the main factor that influences [changes in] post allowances,” said Thomas Rittershofer, who oversees civilian employee benefits and entitlements for U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

The cost of living in a particular region where an employee is assigned and the availability of U.S. government facilities, such as a military exchange, are two other variables that factor into the equation.

While Rittershofer said changes in currency rates are often a main factor in future adjustments, the dollar’s value against the euro hasn’t slipped that much in the past couple of months, based on the official exchange rate.

The increase in the civilian post allowance, which is based on a person’s salary and number of dependents, will be significant.

For example, a civilian earning between $45,000 and $47,999 with three dependents will see their post allowances jump from $6,750 to $9,450 annually, or about $103 each payday.

The changes to the civilian post allowance for Germany were recently posted on the State Department Web site.

Stripes editor Pat Dickson contributed to this report from Washington.

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