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United States Military Pay is money paid 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.

Contents

Pay versus Allowance

This article deals with most types of military pay, but there are two broad categories: "Pay" and "Allowance". Typically, pay is money the entitlement to which is based upon remuneration for employment, while allowance is money necessary for the efficient performance of duty. Generally speaking, pay is income, while allowances are reimbursements. In the landmark case Jones v. The United States, the Court of Claims decided that military allowances are not “…of a compensatory character…” and “…not income as well” [Jones v. The United States(1925), 60 Ct. Cl. 552; 1925 U.S. Ct. Cl. Lexis 510; 1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) P129; 5 A.F.T.R. (P-H) 5297]. Since it was determined that allowances are not income they cannot be taxed, divided or garnished for any reason while pay can be (42 USC 659 et seq.).

Method of pay

Typically members are paid on the 1st and 15th day of each 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.

Major components

There are a few components which most military members receive.

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Basic Pay

View 2010 Base Pay Tables: Chart

Also known as Base Pay, this is given to members of the active duty 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.

Title 37 U.S.C. 1009 provides a permanent formula for an automatic annual military pay raise that indexes the raise to the annual increase in the Employment Cost Index (ECI). The Fiscal Year 2010 President’s Budget request for a 2.9% military pay raise was consistent with this formula. However, Congress, in financial years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2009 approved the pay raise as the ECI increase plus 0.5%. The 2007 pay raise was equal to the ECI. (FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Policy Issues, Congressional Research Service)

A military pay raise larger than the permanent formula is not uncommon. In addition to across-the-board pay raises for all military personnel, mid-year, targeted pay raises (targeted at specific grades and longevity) have also been authorized over the past several years.

Reserve/National Guard "Drill" Pay

View 2010 Reserve Pay Tables: Chart

For members of the Army Reserve and National Guard performing duties with their units on Battle Assembly weekends, pay is usually based on four drill sessions of four hours per session, equal in pay to four days of active duty pay.

Common Allowances

  • 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 received full BAS, but paid for their meals (including those provided by the government). It was 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 2010, enlisted members receive $323.87; warrant officers and commissioned officers receive $223.04 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 no clothing replacement allowance.)

Special Pay

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

  • Incentive 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: Monthly additional pay for certain "hazardous" duty assignements, such as the flight deck operations personnel on an aircraft carrier.
  • 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 dependents (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.

See also

External links

The following are links to About.com's information on military pay:


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