What are allowances and why do you get them?

Next to base pay, allowances are the most important part in the breakdown of your paycheck. They are funds paid to the service member to provide for specific needs that are not directly provided for by the military – for example, clothing and housing — and they are generally not considered taxable income.

Tavares, Fla. native, Spc. Emily Pelchat (right), cashier for Detachment "Blackhawks" B, 208th Financial Management Company, 10th Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, distributes funds to Copperas Cove native Pfc. Larry Ladd at Joint Security Station War Eagle, north of Baghdad.

Tavares, Fla. native, Spc. Emily Pelchat (right), cashier for Detachment “Blackhawks” B, 208th Financial Management Company, 10th Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, distributes funds to Copperas Cove native Pfc. Larry Ladd at Joint Security Station War Eagle, north of Baghdad.

BAS:

Basic allowance for subsistence, or BAS, is intended to partly compensate the service member for the cost of food. These allowances are not intended to compensate the service member for the cost of feeding dependents.

Who: All service members, though service members utilizing the chow hall, deployed, or attending schools/training may not receive BAS as it is directly applied to chow halls or MREs (meals ready to eat).

How much: Officers rate $246.24 per month, enlisted personnel rate $357.55 per month.

BAH:

Basic allowance for housing, or BAH, like BAS, is intended to compensate the service member for the cost of housing.

Who: Service members who do not reside in military quarters or on-installation housing.

How much: BAH differs by duty station and rank. Additionally, there are several different types of BAH that impact the exact amount the service member receives.

BAH with dependents will be higher than BAH without dependents.

Partial BAH is paid to service members who live in government quarters without dependents.

BAH reserve component/transit (BAH RC/T) is for service members who fall within certain parameters that wouldn’t generally receive BAH (i.e. a reservist activated for less than 30 days or a service member stationed somewhere with no previous BAH rate set up, generally overseas).

BAH-differential (BAH-Diff) is authorized for service members who pay child support but don’t necessarily have a dependent living with them (this amount is determined by subtracting the amount of BAH without dependents from that of BAH with dependents).

BAH can be determined here.

Clothing:

There are several types of clothing allowances: initial, cash clothing replacement, extra clothing, and military clothing maintenance.

Initial:

Who: Officers and enlisted alike rate an initial clothing allowance.

How much: The allowance is directly applied to the bill when uniforms are issued.

Cash clothing replacement:

Who: Enlisted personnel yearly in the anniversary month of the service member’s enlistment.

How much: Varies by rank.

Extra clothing:

Who: Any service member in a situation where additional uniforms or specific civilian attire is necessary in order to perform duties (i.e. detachment commanders at an embassy require suits).

How much: For civilian attire, this amount ranges from $287.45 to $862.35 and depends on whether it’s the initial payment, and for how long the service member is going to be in the position.

Military clothing maintenance:

Who: All service members during and after 3 years of active duty.

How much: Varies.

Dislocation:

Dislocation Allowance, or DLA, is intended to partly reimburse service members for the cost of relocating due to orders or evacuation.

Who: All service members regardless of whether the member has dependents; except for National Guard members and reserve members who are reporting to or leaving active duty unless the member is activated for longer than 20 weeks at one location and is authorized to receive PCS allowances and have family members accompanying.

How much: Varies depending on rank and dependent status.

FSA:

Family separation allowance, or FSA, is paid to service members who have dependents and are given unaccompanied orders for more than 30 continuous days.

Who: All service members.

How much: $250 per month.

FSSA:

Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance, or FSSA, is program designed to help military families contending with issues or demands that cannot be met by current military allowances.

Who: All service members who meet the criteria.

How much: Varies.

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