Pay and Benefits
BASIC PAY AND ALLOWANCES
Basic pay increases each year. In 2012, all service members received a pay raise of 1.6 percent effective Jan. 1. Under that raise, basic pay starts at $1,378.80 per month for enlisted members with less than four years of service.
Pay theoretically tops out at $19,240.20 per month for four-star officers with more than 38 years of service. But by law, officer pay is limited to Level II of the federal Executive Schedule. In 2012, the cap limits monthly military pay to $14,975.10.
For 2013, the Obama administration proposed a 1.7 percent pay raise effective Jan. 1, which would match the average rise in private-sector wages.
Drill pay for National Guard and reserve members performing inactive-duty training or drills is calculated as 1/30th of the active-duty basic monthly pay for each drill period.
The law allows for payment of two drills in any 24-hour period, even if the reservist is on duty for the full 24 hours. So a traditional weekend of Guard or reserve duty usually totals four drills. But an increasing number of reservists drill:
♦ Individually, for one drill period at a time at different points throughout the year.
♦ Incrementally (for reservists other than members of the Army National Guard), in one-hour chunks leading to a total of a four-hour drill or several months’ worth of drills at the same time in conjunction with annual training. For example, reservists might perform 12 drills over six days to maximize time at a gaining command. Drill pay for a specific period may cover one to multiple drills.
All service members are paid based on their paygrades and total time in service. The time counts as active duty, as well as active reserve and inactive reserve time. Members of the Retired Reserve also accrue longevity pay increases.
The only difference between pay for National Guard and other reserve component members is the number of days they serve for their annual active-duty training period — Guard members do 15 days of training; reservists, 14 days.
Benefit formula. To calculate how much drill pay is earned for a given month, divide monthly base pay by 30 to establish the daily rate of pay. Multiply the daily rate by the number of drill periods served that month. That is the gross monthly pay before taxes and other withholdings.
To see the current basic pay and drill pay charts, visit www.militarytimes.com/money and click on “Pay Charts.”
BASIC ALLOWANCE FOR HOUSING
BAH is the modern version of a military program dating from 1878 under which service members are provided government quarters or a cash substitute when quarters are unavailable. The allowance is not taxable.
BAH rates, which vary by rank, location and whether a service member has dependents, are based on surveys of local rental costs for housing in hundreds of locations across the U.S.
BAH rates can increase or decrease from year to year in a given location based on the latest survey data. However, under a Pentagon policy known as “individual rate protection,” allowance rates do not decrease for anyone in a given location as long as that person remains assigned there; the lower rates apply only to members reassigned to that area in that particular year.
On Jan. 1, 2012, BAH rates increased nationwide by an average of 2 percent.
Basic Allowance for Housing Reserve Component/Transient, formerly known as BAH Type II, is an allowance for members in particular circumstances, such as those serving on active duty for less than 30 days. Unlike regular BAH, it does not vary by location, but it does vary based on paygrade and family status.
For 2012, average BAH RC/T rates increased about 2 percent, the same as the average increase in regular BAH. For members without dependents, the monthly allowance ranges from $469.50 for single E-1s to $1,756.50 for married O-10s. Actual payments are then pro-rated at 1/30th of those rates for each qualifying day.
Eligibility. The type of BAH for which a reservist is eligible is based on length of active duty in one location, the type of active duty and whether the member is living in government quarters. It breaks down like this:
♦ Active duty less than 30 consecutive ays — BAH RC/T. This includes annual training and active-duty training or special work that doesn't meet the 30-day threshold.
However, serving 31 days — the minimum time required to receive full BAH — does not automatically entitle a reservist to the higher payments. For example, if a reservist is called up for 14 days and receives a 17-day extension, he receives only BAH RC/T unless the call-up or extension was for a national emergency or contingency operation.
For periods of duty less than 31 days, BAH RC/T payments are prorated for the actual number of days served.
♦ Active duty for more than 30 consecutive days in one location. This allowance is based on the type of duty reservists are involved in, their family status and whether government quarters are assigned. Reservists mobilized in a time of national emergency or for a contingency operation automatically qualify for full BAH. Reservists who volunteer or are called up for 31 days or more and reservists called up for noncontingencies also qualify for the higher BAH payments.
For current BAH and BAH RC/T rates, visit www.militarytimes.com/money and click on “Pay Charts.”
BASIC ALLOWANCE FOR SUBSISTENCE
BAS is a tax-free monthly allowance to defray a portion of the cost of a service member’s subsistence — essentially, food. Rates increase each year to match changes in the Agriculture Department’s food-cost index. All active-duty and reserve component members entitled to basic pay also receive BAS, with the exception of initial accessions (personnel in recruit training).
Reservists qualify for BAS during periods of active duty, with their payments prorated for the actual number of days served.
BAS rates increased 7.2 percent for 2012. The monthly rate for commissioned and warrant officers is $239.96, up almost $17 over 2011. The monthly rate for enlisted members is $384.44, up more than $23 from 2011.