United States Military Pay
is money given to members in the United States Armed Forces
. The amount of pay may vary by the member's rank, time in the military, location duty assignment, and by some special skills the member may have.
Pay vs. Allowance
This article deals with most types of military pay, but there are two broad categories: "Pay" and "Allowance". Typically, pay is money for service and special skills or special circumstances, while allowance is money to meet basic needs. Generally speaking, pay is taxable income, while allowances are non-taxable income.
The amounts for most pay categories listed in this article are specified on a monthly basis.
There are a few components which most military members receive.
Also known as Base Pay, this is given to members of the military on a monthly basis and is determined by their rank (or more appropriately their pay grade
) and their length of time in military service. Basic Pay is the same for all the services. As a matter of course, over the last several years, basic pay has increased for all ranks effective the first of the year. Basic pay is set by law, usually in the annual defense authorization bill.
- Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)
- Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS): BAS is meant to offset costs for a member's meals. This allowance is based in the historic origins of the military in which the military provided room and board (or rations) as part of a member's pay. This allowance is not intended to offset the costs of meals for family members.
Beginning on January 1 2002, all enlisted members get full BAS, but pay for their meals (including those provided by the government). This is the culmination of the BAS Reform transition period.
Because BAS is intended to provide meals for the service member, its level is linked to the price of food. Therefore, each year it is adjusted based upon the increase of the price of food as measured by the USDA food cost index. This is why the increase to BAS will not necessarily be the same percentage as that applied to the increase in the pay table, as annual pay raises are linked to the increase of private sector wages. As of 2008, enlisted members receive $294.43 and warrant officers and commissioned officers receive $202.76 per month.
- Clothing allowance: Comes to most members on an annual basis to buy and replace required uniforms. The amount varies by service and rank. (Typically, commissioned officers receive less clothing replacement allowance.)
A member may be eligible for some of the following pays depending on rating (MOS
) and assignment (location and duty).
- Submarine Duty Pay: Varies by rank and time in service
- Sea Duty Pay: Varies by rank and time in service
- Flight Pay: For members on flying status. Monthly pay varies by rank and flight experience.
- Jump Pay: for military parachutists who meet the requirements. Regular is $150 per month, HALO is $225 per month
- Foreign Language Proficiency Pay
Other Types of Pay
- ex. KAIP
- Hardship Pay: Monthly pay for certain "hardship duty locations". The rate varies by the location. This sometimes appears on the LES as "Save Pay"
- Hostile Fire Pay/Imminent Danger Pay: Monthly pay that appears on the LES as "HFP/IDP". Sometimes referred to as Combat Pay.
- Hazardous Duty Pay
- Family Separation Allowance: Money paid when required to be away from spouse due to military duties. Technically it is intended to offset the costs associated with being separated such as landscaping, car maintenance, occasional child care, phone calls and mail, rather than being a monetary compensation for the emotional effect of the distant spouse. Appears on the LES as "FSH".
- COLA (Cost Of Living Allowance): Non-taxable money paid monthly to offset the additional costs of living in a particular location, usually an overseas location. The amount of COLA varies by country and possibly location in a country. The amount of COLA also varies by rank, number of dependants (in the location) as well as living situation (off base may receive more than on base) and the exchange rate between the US dollar and the local currency. COLA is meant to provide a member overseas and a CONUS the same spending power, so COLA may go up and down as prices in either country change.
Method of Pay
Typically members are paid twice a month: on the 15th of the month, and again on the 1st of the following month. If the 1st or 15th of the month falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday, the member will be paid the weekday before, usually a Friday. The monthly pay statement is known as a Leave and Earnings Statement
or LES, which is usually available near the end of each month. The money is directly deposited into a member's personal banking account. The payment on the 15th is known as mid month pay, and the pay on the 1st is end of month pay.
The following are links to about.com section on military pay