Benefit Fact Sheet
In addition to salary and bonuses, the Army provides allowances to offset the cost of living. These allowances are monies provided for specific needs, such as food or housing when the government does not provide for that specific need. Most allowances are not taxable, which is an additional imbedded benefit of military pay.
In general, active duty officers and enlisted Soldiers are eligible for some degree of the allowances stated.
Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH): BAH offsets the cost of housing when Soldiers live off base. The intent of BAH is to provide uniformed service members accurate and equitable housing compensation based on housing costs in local civilian housing markets, and is payable when government quarters are not provided. BAH rates are based on the Soldiers' geographic duty location, pay grade, and dependency status. BAH is the second-largest piece of compensation for most Soldiers. BAH rates for Service members in 2021 will increase 2.9% nationwide. That means that Soldiers who receive BAH will absorb between $70 and $158 of their housing costs monthly. 2021 Rate Calculator.
Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA): OHA is used to compensate members for the majority of housing expenses incurred while stationed overseas. Allowance rates are periodically updated based on new cost data and review of currency fluctuations. OHA is comprised of three components:
Rental ceilings are computed using actual rents as reported through finance centers. Rental ceilings are set such that 80 percentile of members with dependents have rents fully reimbursed. Unaccompanied members or members without dependents are entitled to 90% of with dependent rate.
Utility/recurring maintenance allowance is paid monthly to defray expenses paid directly to utility companies. Payments fully cover the reported utility expenses for 80 percent of the members, based on expenses reported to the Per Diem, Travel, and Transportation Allowance Committee by members receiving the allowance.
Move-in housing allowance (MIHA) is comprised of three components:
MIHA/Miscellaneous--a fixed-rate, lump-sum payment that reflects average expenditures to make dwellings habitable
MIHA/Rent--an actual dollar-for-dollar payment made in the field for customary or legally required rent-related expenses, such as rental agents' fees
MIHA/Security--an actual expense component paid for security-related enhancements to physical dwellings when quarters must be modified to minimize exposure to terrorist or criminal threat.
Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS): The Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) is used to pay for food for Enlisted Soldiers and Officers. The following are the BAS rates for 2021:
Clothing Allowance: Enlisted personnel are issued a standard wardrobe when they enter active duty and a clothing replacement allowance on their anniversary month. The replacement allowance is paid at the "basic" rate for members with less than 3 years of service, and after that at the "standard" rate. Officers receive a one-time payment after commissioning to buy clothing. No allowance for clothing maintenance is provided. There are three types of clothing allowances to cover both initial allowances and replacements:
Initial Clothing Allowances are provided to enlisted members upon initial enlistment or upon other special qualification for entitlement to a prescribed outfitting of uniforms. The initial issue may be an in-kind issue or a combination of in kind issue and cash payment.
Cash Clothing Replacement Allowances are provided to enlisted members upon the anniversary month each successive year following the provision of an initial clothing allowance. Cash clothing replacement allowances are for replacement of required uniform items based on a normal wear rate.
Extra Clothing Allowances are additional to initial and replacement allowances and do not reduce, replace or otherwise affect them. Extra clothing allowances provide for unusual circumstances when an enlisted member may require additional uniform items or when an officer (with a permanent duty station outside the United States) or enlisted member may require civilian clothes to perform their assigned duties.
Family Separation Allowance (FSA): Soldiers assigned or deployed to locations where the military will not move Families receive a Family Separation Allowance of $250 per month to cover expenses incurred during a Soldier's separation from their Family. Soldiers are also entitled to the allowance if their Families are unable to accompany them overseas due to medical reasons.
Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance (FSSA): Active duty Soldiers that qualify for the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program, may be eligible for assistance up to amounts not to exceed $1,100 monthly.
Cost of Living Allowance (COLA): Soldiers assigned to high-cost locations in the continental U.S. or a tour of duty outside the continental United States are paid a Cost of Living Allowance. This allowance is intended to offset the higher costs of food, transportation, clothing, and other non-housing items. COLA rates are based on the Soldiers' rank, duty location, and dependent status. Unlike other allowances, COLA is considered taxable, however, an additional amount is included to cover the average tax rate.
For more specific information on these benefits and to verify eligibility, please visit the following links:
Basic Allowance for Housing:
Overseas Housing Allowance:
Basic Allowance for Subsistence:
Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance:
Family Separation Allowance:
Cost of Living Allowance:
Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Allowance:
Office of the Secretary of Defense, Military Compensation website: