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Request a Waiver to the Biweekly Earnings Limitation


What is a “Waiver” to the Biweekly Earnings Limitation?

The biweekly earnings limitation is a rule found in the Code of Federal Regulations limiting your pay to what a GS-15 step 10 or Level V of the Executive Schedule (ES), whichever is higher, earns in a pay period. A "waiver" will allow the earnings limitation to be applied on an annual rather than biweekly basis. This means that your annual salary may not be higher than the annual rate of pay of a GS-15 step 10 or Level V of the ES, whichever is higher. The GS-15/10 rate varies depending on your locality pay area. Annual salary limits are discussed in more detail below.

When can a waiver be requested?

A waiver may be requested when an emergency program is declared or mission critical work occurs which causes employees' pay to exceed the biweekly pay limitation. A waiver may not be requested for an individual employee. An “emergency” means a temporary condition posing a direct threat to human life or property.

What is the process for requesting a waiver?



Does What


Your Program's Deputy Administrator (DA), or his or her designee,

Submits a written request to the Human Resources Director, Human Resources Division (HRD), with the following:

  • The name of the emergency program, e.g., Karnal Bunt, or mission critical work, e.g., Avian Influenza.
  • If applicable, the name and position title of the person who declared the emergency program.
  • A detailed description of the emergency program or the mission critical work.
  • The date that the emergency program was declared or mission critical work began.
  • The expected ending date.
  • Supporting documentation, e.g., copies of press releases, Code of Federal Regulations issuances, and all other relevant documentation supporting the request.


HRD Requests and obtains written approval from the Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM), USDA, to apply the annual rather than biweekly salary limitation to the biweekly pay of those employees working on the emergency program or performing the mission critical work



Provides a copy of the approval to the Program and to the Leave and Compensation Team (LCT), Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM), Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Note: The approval outlines the effective dates.


Your Program's Deputy Administrator (DA), or his or her designee, Must request an extension, in writing, from HRD, if the emergency program or mission critical work does not end when expected and OHRM's approval expires. The request must explain why an extension is needed and the expected duration.


HRD Obtains an additional extension(s) as requested. Steps 4 - 5 may continue until the emergency or mission critical work ends.

What does the salary limit include and exclude?

The salary limit includes . . . It excludes . . .
Base Pay. OT pay for employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Locality Pay. Compensatory time off in lieu of OT pay for employees covered by FLSA.
Special Salary Rates. Compensatory time off for travel (CTOT).
Premium Pay (i.e., overtime [OT], compensatory time off in lieu of OT pay, night differential, Sunday pay, holiday pay)..  
Within Grade Increases (WGI).  
Quality Step Increases (QSI).  

Note: Position Classification determines FLSA status. FLSA status is indicated on the cover sheet of the position description or in block 35 of the SF-50B, Notification of Personnel Action.

If you reach the biweekly (annual, if applicable) limit on premium pay, then you may still be ordered to perform overtime work without receiving further compensation.

While your Program may order and approve you to perform e.g., overtime work, you are statutorily barred from receiving the premium pay. In these situations, you will continue to receive your regular base pay regardless of whether the annual premium pay cap was exceeded or not.

How do I know if I'm near or reached the annual limit?

You and your timekeeper must keep manual records each pay period projecting your earnings through the end of the calendar year. These projections must take in account: premium pay (including any OT earned for other work), promotions, WGIs, etc. Follow the steps below for determining if you have reached the annual limit




Find your locality/SSR pay chart. Print a copy.


Next, find and print a copy of the Level V ES.


Compare the GS 15/10 level to the Level V ES. Use the chart with the higher dollar amount as your annual earnings limit.


Calculate all additional pay earned (e.g., premium pay, promotions, WGIs, QSIs) during the pay period OR project what you expect to earn in the following pay periods (such as regularly scheduled OT, WGIs).


Add the amount in step 4 to your annual salary limit in step 3.


Compare the total in step 5 above to your annual salary limit in step 3.


Advise your supervisor if you are coming close to the annual limit.

Note: Once you reach the annual limit, you may not work anymore OT or earn additional premium pay through the end of the calendar year. This means that you continue working only your regular 80 hours per pay period.

Note: Remember to keep careful records. The law does not permit waivers to salary overpayments. If you are overpaid you must repay the money. There are no exceptions.

For more information

Questions concerning this guidance may be addressed to your supervisor, timekeeper and/or servicing LCT specialist, HRO Minneapolis.

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