BASIC ALLOWANCE FOR HOUSING
Many service members stationed in the U.S. live off base and collect the monthly, tax-free Basic Allowance for Housing.
BAH is intended to provide service members with housing compensation in line with civilian rental costs in the area where they are stationed. Allowances are based on location, rank and whether a member has dependents.
Allowances are devised from surveys of local civilian housing costs and changed accordingly, usually each January 1.
The allowance covers 100 percent of average rental costs in all locations. Defense officials stress the word average; some members choose to pay out of pocket for a portion of their rent to get larger accommodations. Thus, out-of-pocket costs for all members will never be eliminated.
Allowance rates can rise, as well as fall, in any given location from year to year. However, the BAH program features "individual rate protection": A member who arrives at a duty station and receives BAH at that year's rate will continue to get that rate for as long as he remains at that location, even if housing costs later decline in that area. Newly arriving members at that location will get the lower BAH rate, on the assumption that they will be able to find suitable housing at less cost.
Because BAH is based on the prevailing rental costs of the area where a member works, someone who changes duty stations that are fairly close together but does not change residences may see a change in the allowance rate.
OVERSEAS HOUSING ALLOWANCE
Military members on official accompanied overseas tours either are provided housing or receive the Overseas Housing Allowance. Eligibility for OHA does not require that family members join the service member overseas.
Members on unaccompanied overseas tours also receive OHA if government housing is unavailable. Families of service members on unaccompanied overseas assignments that remain in the U.S. get the appropriate BAH for their local area.
Eligible members must fill out DD Form 2367, "Individual Overseas Housing Allowance Report," to receive OHA. Check with local housing offices for procedures. OHA rental ceilings are computed so that 80 percent of members with dependents in a given location have their rental costs fully reimbursed by OHA.
Unaccompanied members and members without dependents are entitled to 90 percent of the with-dependents rate.
Reservists qualify for full BAH when mobilized for more than 30 days. In addition, reservists mobilized for 30 days or fewer specifically in support of a contingency operation also get full BAH. They receive 1/30th of their normal full BAH rate for each day on active duty.
Reservists draw BAH Reserve Component/Transit only for noncontingency active duty, such as their two weeks of routine annual training. They receive 1/30th of their normal BAH RC/T rate for each day on active duty.
The government provides dual housing allowances for service members on unaccompanied tours overseas who are unable to get government quarters but still are supporting a family stateside.
In such situations, members are eligible to receive a Family Separation Housing Allowance (equal to OHA) and Basic Allowance for Housing at the with-dependents rate for their family.