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U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Recruiting, Retaining and Honoring a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People

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Special Rates


Employees who are covered by a special rate schedule are entitled to the applicable special rate within that schedule unless they are entitled to a higher rate of basic pay under other authority (e.g., a higher locality rate or a retained rate).

In some cases, special rate schedules cover multiple locations where different locality rates apply. In some locations, the locality rate may be higher, while in other locations the special rate is higher. We show a special rate in a schedule if it is higher in at least one location covered by the special rate schedule; however, that special rate is not applicable to an employee if he or she is stationed in a location where a higher locality rate applies. Generally, you will find a special footnote below the special rate schedule that explains that (1) a higher locality rate may apply at certain grades or steps in certain locations or (2) the special rates for a specific grade apply only to certain locations where the locality rate is lower.

For some special rate schedules, special rates may apply only at certain steps of a grade, since any applicable locality rate exceeds the special rate at other steps. This occurs in the case of special rate schedules for which the special rate supplement is a fixed dollar amount. Since a locality payment is a fixed percentage, a special rate computed using a fixed-dollar supplement may be higher than the locality rate at lower steps but lower than the locality rate at higher steps. When no special rate appears at a particular step in a schedule, that means the locality rate for that step in all covered locations is higher than the special rate.

Note: Certain law enforcement officers at grades GS-3 through GS-10 are entitled to special base rates that are higher than the regular GS rates. Locality pay is paid on top of the special base rate; thus, the locality rate for such an officer is higher than the regular GS locality rate. A law enforcement officer entitled to a special base rate at grades GS-3 through GS-10 may also be covered by a special rate schedule and entitled to a special rate if the special rate is higher than the officer's locality rate. Since such officers' locality rates are higher than regular locality rates, it is possible that an officer's locality rate will be higher than the corresponding special rate even though the regular locality rate is lower than that special rate.