Allowances and Benefits

Frequently asked questions


Who is eligible for the Peace Corps benefits related to the coronavirus pandemic?

All volunteers who were evacuated due to the coronavirus pandemic, including those who were originally on administrative hold and those who had accepted interrupted service when Peace Corps offered it out of concerns for the coronavirus pandemic, are eligible for the evacuation allowance and wellness stipend provided by Peace Corps. This includes all China and Mongolia Volunteers, who were among the first to leave their countries.

Readjustment Allowance accrues with time in service and therefore all Volunteers receive it for the time they served.


What is the Wellness Stipend?

Volunteers and Trainees who were evacuated due to the coronavirus outbreak will receive an additional $1,500 to help cover short-term health and wellness costs. These funds are being provided in addition to the evacuation and readjustment allowances, and will be disbursed by the end of April. The wellness stipend is taxable and will be reported on W-2s for tax year 2020.


What is the Readjustment Allowance (RA)?

The Readjustment Allowance is a “payment authorized by the Peace Corps Act to assist returned Volunteers in their transition from Peace Corps Service to other endeavors.” RA begins accruing on the first day you began service and continues until your Completion of Service (COS) date.


How much Readjustment Allowance will I receive?

Trainees and Volunteers who have served less than 24 months since the date they swore in as Volunteers earn $375/month. Response Volunteers and Volunteers who have served more than 24 months since the date they swore in earn $475/month.

An easy way to see your accumulated RA is to take a look at your March Statement of Earnings (sent to your email in early March). It provides your RA balance, which reflects your total RA earnings since the start of your service, less federal tax withholding and any withdrawals or allotments you might have requested.


What is the Evacuation Allowance (EA) and who is eligible?

Evacuation Allowance is provided for Trainees and Volunteers who had to close their service due to a country evacuation or suspension, and is intended to provide support to you as you return to the US on very little notice. Everyone who was in service as a Peace Corps Trainee or Volunteer when the COVID-19 crisis required evacuation is eligible, including Response Volunteers and those on medevac, admin hold, or leave.

The EA is a separate allowance from Readjustment Allowance (RA), and is in addition to the RA you already earned. It is intended to replace the future RA you would have earned in the next 12 months of service but will not now earn due to the evacuation.


How much Evacuation Allowance will I receive?

The amount of EA you will receive is based on two things. The first is the monthly accrual rate of your RA on the date you COS’d due to the evacuation. As shown in section on RA, that rate is $375/month for Trainees and Volunteers who have not yet completed 24 months since their swear-in date. For Response Volunteers and Volunteers who have extended beyond 24 months since their swear-in date (e.g. Third Year Volunteers), the rate is $475/month.

The second thing affecting your EA is the time you had remaining in service when on the date of your COS due to the evacuation. If you were scheduled to serve for 12 or more months beyond that date, you will receive 12 months of EA. If you were scheduled to serve for less than 12 months beyond that COS date, you will receive EA for the number of months you had scheduled to remain in service (i.e. up until your original COS date).


What if I was originally placed on Administrative Hold before the COVID-19 Evacuation? Will my allowances be affected by the Admin Hold Allowance I received?

Your Evacuation Allowance will be reduced by the amount of Admin Hold Allowance you received, but your Readjustment Allowance will remain the same.


What if I elected Interrupted Service (IS) due to the COVID-19 outbreak prior to the decision to evacuate my country?

You will be converted to Completion of Service (COS) status and will receive benefits and allowances as all other COVID-19 evacuees. However, eligibility for benefits differ according to how long you have served. Please see FAQs for Non-Competitive Eligibility, the Coverdell Fellows Program, Readjustment Allowance and Evacuation Allowance.


Will my monthly RA allotment payment (for my student loan/credit card/etc.) be issued for April?

No. Monthly allotments paid from your RA on the first of each month will not be issued in the April payroll. No further allotment payments will be issued from your RA. The entire balance of your RA account will be paid directly to you.


When should I expect my payments (RA and EA) to come?

  • Payment #1 – 1/3rd RA Payment – You should see this payment in your US bank account on/about 3/23/2020. This payment will be for 1/3rd of your RA balance as of 3/19/2020, which is the day we initiated these payments.
  • Payment #2 – Evacuation Allowance Payment – You should see this payment in your US bank account by on/about 3/30/2020. This payment will be for your Evacuation Allowance amount, as outlined below.
  • Payment #3 – Final RA Payment – You should see this payment in your US bank account approximately 10-15 business days after your Evacuation COS Date. This payment will be for your final RA balance.

Please note that some Volunteers will also receive payments for quarantine reimbursements, or for expenses related to evacuation-related travel allowances that could not be paid to the Volunteer before departure from Post.


What if I need to update or correct my US bank account in order to get my allowance payments?

Please direct your inquiry to update banking info to [email protected].


What are the tax implications of these allowance payments?

The IRS considers Readjustment Allowance to be taxable income. Social Security and Medicare were deducted from your RA earnings every month when they were credited to your RA account. Federal Income Tax was only withheld from RA if you requested Federal Income Tax to be withheld. Since taxes have already been withheld from your RA, there will not be additional tax withheld at the time of your RA payments.

The IRS considers EA to be taxable income. Unlike Readjustment Allowance, however, Evacuation Allowance does not qualify for Social Security and Medicare withholding. No taxes will be withheld from your Evacuation Allowance payment.


Will the full amount of my Readjustment Allowance payments be included on my 2020 W-2?

Only your Readjustment Allowance earnings for your service in 2020 – about 3 months of RA – will be reported on your W-2 for Tax Year 2020 that will be issued in January 2021. Your RA earnings for service in previous years was reported on the W-2 you received from Peace Corps for those Tax Years.


What if I don’t have a copy of my W-2?

Please send a request for your W-2, including your full name, complete dates of service, and country of service to [email protected].


If I reinstate, re-enroll, or become a Response Volunteer at a later date, would I be required to pay the evacuation or readjustment allowance back

Any and all allowances you were paid were intended to help you adjust to the end of your service and are yours to keep, regardless of whether or not you return to service.


Am I eligible for the COVID-19 Stimulus Payment?

Individual eligibility depends on income levels and filing status, and therefore it is not possible for Peace Corps to determine your eligibility. Please seek publicly available information, such as through this link, which has current information and includes a tool for non-filers to provide direct deposit information: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments.


Am I eligible for unemployment assistance, or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer?

The Department of Labor (DOL) has determined that Peace Corps Volunteers do not serve as employees and, therefore, do not qualify for unemployment insurance.

However, the DOL has agreed to include evacuated RPCVs in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). DOL issued guidance to the states on April 27 confirming that RPCVs evacuated due to the COVID-19 crisis are eligible for PUA, but systems at the state level are still being adapted to accommodate this new program.

We are aware many evacuees are having difficulty providing documentation sufficient to establish their eligibility for PUA at the state level, and therefore are issuing a letter to each evacuated RPCV to assist in establishing their status as a COVID-19 evacuee and therefore their eligibility under DOL guidance for PUA.

Please see this link to connect to the offices handling PUA in the state where you live or go directly to your state coronavirus website for more information:

https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus/unemployment-insurance


How do I get the letter from Peace Corps indicating I was evacuated due to COVID-19, and that I am eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?

If you received COS status due to the COVID-19 evacuation, but did not receive this letter, please contact your country desk officer at [country name]@peacecorps.gov. (Examples: [email protected], [email protected])


How will this affect Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE)?

Application of NCE differs for Volunteers, Peace Corps Response Volunteers, and Trainees.

Peace Corps Volunteers

Under Executive Order 11103 signed by the President Kennedy in 1961, certain Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) qualify for one year of NCE, i.e., to be non-competitively appointed as a career-conditional employee in the competitive civil service. NCE does not mean that RPCVs are entitled to federal employment. Non-competitive eligibility permits, but does not require, an agency to hire non-competitively an RPCV who meets the minimum qualifications for the position. The decision whether to hire an RPCV under non-competitive eligibility is at the discretion of the hiring agency which provides some federal agencies the flexibility to hire you in an expedited manner.

Note: Manual Section (MS) 285, 5.3(a) requires an RPCV to have served for at least 12 months in order to be eligible for an NCE certification. Director Olsen has waived the provisions of MS 285, 5.3(a) regarding this 12-month minimum requirement for Volunteers, and has authorized Country Directors to certify NCE for those Volunteers whose service ended as a result of the COVID-19 evacuation and who demonstrated the ability to satisfactorily complete the full term of service. Accordingly:

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers whose service ended as a result of the COVID-19 evacuation and who demonstrated the ability to satisfactorily complete the full term of service may be certified by their Country Director for NCE.

Peace Corps Response Volunteers

Under the terms of Executive Order 11103, as well as corresponding Department of Justice guidance, the NCE eligibility rules apply differently to Returned Peace Corps Response Volunteers (“Returned Response Volunteers” or RPCRVs). Although the Peace Corps has implemented the Executive Order with flexibility wherever we are able to do so, Director Olsen is not able to waive its requirements. However, Director Olsen has waived the provisions of MS 285, 6.1(a) regarding the 12-month minimum requirement for Response Volunteers, and has therefore authorized Country Directors to certify NCE for Peace Corps employment only for those Response Volunteers whose service ended as a result of the COVID-19 evacuation and who demonstrated the ability to satisfactorily complete the full term of service. Accordingly:

  • Returned Response Volunteers whose service ended as a result of the COVID-19 evacuation are eligible for NCE for Peace Corps employment only, if the CD determines that the PCRV has served satisfactorily.
  • Returned Response Volunteers who have satisfactorily completed a term of service of at least two consecutive years may be certified by their Country Director for NCE for federal employment, including Peace Corps employment.
  • Returned Response Volunteers who previously served satisfactorily as Peace Corps Volunteers for two years and then were appointed to a Peace Corps Response assignment immediately following their two years of service may be certified by their Country Director for NCE for federal employment.

Trainees

Trainees, including those evacuated due to COVID-19, are not eligible for NCE.


How will this affect Coverdell Fellowships?

  • Peace Corps Volunteer: All Volunteers (i.e. those who started a two-year term of service and who swore in) are eligible for Coverdell Fellowships, regardless of how long they actually were able to serve before the COVID-19 evacuation.
  • Peace Corps Response Volunteers: On April 28, 2020, Director Olsen waived the 12 months minimum service requirement as set forth in Manual Section 126, Attachment A, 4.1(d), therefore allowing all COVID-19 evacuated Response Volunteers to have lifetime eligibility for the Coverdell Fellows Program.
  • Peace Corps Trainees: Evacuated Trainees are not eligible for the Coverdell Fellows program.

For more information about the Coverdell Fellows program, please explore the Introduction to Returned Volunteer Services courses in Learning Space where you will find the Continuing your Education with Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program course materials. You will also find useful information on the Peace Corps website Coverdell Fellows page: https://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/university-programs/coverdell-fellows/