Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)
Benefit Fact Sheet
Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is a United States (U.S.) based allowance that provides uniformed Service members equitable housing compensation based on housing costs in local housing markets when government quarters are not provided. A Service member stationed outside the U.S., including U.S. territories and possessions, who does not have government housing available is eligible for Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA).
There are several types of BAH to satisfy various housing situations that occur among military members. In general, the amount of BAH you receive depends on your location, pay grade, and whether you have dependents. Under most circumstances, you receive BAH for the location where you are assigned, not where you live. Additionally, you may be entitled to some BAH amounts if you are residing separately from your dependents. This occurs in situations involving unaccompanied overseas tours or having a dependent Child that resides with a former Spouse. The rules regarding these situations can become quite complex. Consult your Finance Office if you are in one of these situations.
Army Reserve Soldiers on active duty are eligible for Basic Allowance for Housing.
Basic Allowance for Housing rates are based on local area rental market data and vary by geographic duty station, pay grade and dependency status. The cost of utilities is also considered. BAH is based only on rental properties, not homeownership costs like mortgage payments and property taxes.
BAH also includes rate protection. This means, if a Service member’s current BAH rate is less than the previous year, the member receives at least the same amount of BAH as the previous year, provided that the member’s duty location, rank and dependency status remain the same. If BAH rates go up, the member will receive the higher BAH rate as long as their eligibility is uninterrupted. This ensures that members who have made long-term commitments in the form of a lease or contract are not penalized if the area’s housing costs decrease.
For a complete listing of BAH rates, see BAH Rates for All Locations. Service members can calculate their individual BAH rates using the BAH Calculator: https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/bahCalc.cfm
BAH enables Service members to live off-base at a comparable rate as their civilian counterparts. It is not designed to cover all housing costs for all members. Some members may have out-of-pocket expenses because the rates are based on the median cost of rent. A Service member’s actual expense may be higher or lower depending on the Service member’s choice of housing and where they live.
Service members are free to make housing choices that best suit their needs, therefore they may choose to use all their housing allowance to rent expensive housing close to their duty station or they may choose to have a longer commute by renting a larger home in a less expensive area/outlying area that is further from their duty station.
ALARACT 097/2016 - Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA), and Cost of Living (COLA) Secretarial Waiver Guidance:
The ALARACT 097/2016 clarifies secretarial waiver guidance for Soldiers to be considered to receive BAH, OHA, AND COLA at other than the Permanent Duty Station (PDS) location under certain circumstances. The purpose of this guidance is to stabilize the Soldier's dependents for a relatively short period of time when circumstances require dependents to reside separately. To be eligible for consideration of a waiver, the Soldier's dependents must reside with them prior to PCS unless the Service member is serving an unaccompanied tour. The dependents must continue to reside at the previous duty station or government-approved designated place. The previous duty station is defined as the location of the last duty station in which shipment of household goods at government expense was authorized. Designated place is defined as the location to which the government authorized movement of dependents.
Housing Allowance Waiver Program
What is it? The Army’s Secretarial housing allowance waiver program stabilizes the Soldier's dependent for a temporary, period of time when circumstances require the dependents to reside apart from the Service Member. Waivers will be considered for a period up to six months before or after the Soldier’s relocation date. Extensions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
What does it do? The housing allowance waiver program provides temporary assistance to Soldiers and their Families to ease the transition of a permanent change of station (PCS) move to the new permanent duty station in the United States or overseas. An approved waiver allows the Soldier to receive a housing allowance based on the old duty station or government approved designated location instead of the new permanent duty station.
Who qualifies? The program applies to active duty Soldiers with dependents whose dependents reside with them at the previous duty station prior to departing on a PCS or at a government approved designated location (for Soldiers serving an unaccompanied/dependent restricted tour).
The dependent must reside with the Soldier prior to the PCS unless the member is serving an unaccompanied/dependent restricted tour.
The dependent must continue to reside at the previous duty station or government-approved designated place during the waiver period.
Soldiers without a dependent can only apply for a waiver when authorized a no cost PCS or be a Reserve Component (RC) Soldier on active duty overseas.
What situations qualify? Soldiers may apply for consideration of a housing allowance waiver under the following circumstances:
Low/No cost PCS. Soldiers who are not authorized to move household goods or dependents and must commute from the same residence occupied at the last duty station to the new duty station. Submit lease or mortgage agreement.
Professional Military Education (PME) or training course. Soldiers who will attend a military school or training course for a period not to exceed 12 months. Only Soldiers assigned in the United States may apply.
Deployment. Soldiers who are assigned to a unit that will deploy within 12 months of their arrival and will deploy with that unit. Submit deployment order or a memo signed by a Major or above in the Soldier’s chain of command verifying the deployment month, year, and duration.
Dependent education. A dependent who is enrolled in an academic program and want to complete the current school year or current semester. Submit a letter from the academic institution verifying enrollment and the anticipated end of the school year date.
Spouse employment. A dependent Spouse who is gainfully employed and desires a delay to complete employment obligations. Submit a letter or contract from the employer verifying employment for early termination.
Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) or medical considerations. A dependent under a medical treatment program who require a short delay to complete medical treatment or to continue to care for an immediate Family member. Must be enrolled in the EFMP, if applicable. An EFMP statement must be on the PCS order regarding availability of care at the new duty station.
Advance travel of dependent. A dependent that travels ahead of the Soldier to the new duty station and establishes a residence with a lease or mortgage agreement.
RC Soldiers with dependents called to active duty. RC Soldiers with dependents ordered to active duty for 365 days or less and desire to receive BAH based on the primary residence at the time the order was issued.
RC Soldiers without dependents called to active duty. RC Soldiers without dependents ordered to active duty for 365 days or less for an OCONUS assignment, government quarters are not available, and desire to receive an overseas housing allowance based on the permanent duty station.
How do Soldiers apply? Soldiers are required to submit the following documents for consideration:
Memorandum or DA Form 4187 signed by the Soldier and commander, if applicable, requesting consideration of a waiver. The memorandum must provide the reason for the request and the Soldier’s email and phone contact information.
PCS order to the old duty station.
PCS order to the new duty station.
Required document based on situation Soldier is applying for (PME, deployment, education,).
Where do Soldiers send their requests?
For PME waiver requests from Active Component Officers, email requests in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) to HRC Fort Knox using the AIM portal: https://aim.hrc.army.mil.
PME waiver requests from Active Component Enlisted Soldiers, email requests in PDF to HRC Fort Knox using email address: email@example.com.
All other requests from Active Component, United States Army Reserve and Army National Guard, including Active Guard and Reserve, email requests in PDF to HQDA DCS, G-1 using email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if Soldiers have questions on the housing allowance waiver program? Email questions to HQDA, DCS G-1 using email address: email@example.com.
Different Types of BAH
BAH With Dependents and BAH Without Dependents
A Service member with a permanent duty within the 50 United States, who is not furnished government housing, is eligible BAH, based on the Service member's dependency status at the permanent duty ZIP Code. A Service member stationed overseas, including U.S. protectorates, who is not furnished government housing, is eligible for Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) based on the Service member's dependency status. If a Service member is serving an UNACCOMPANIED overseas tour, the Service member is eligible for BAH at the "with dependents" rate, based on the dependent's U.S. residence ZIP Code, plus OHA at the "without dependents" rate, if the Service member is not furnished government housing overseas.
A Service member without dependents who is living in government quarters is entitled to a Partial BAH.
BAH Reserve Component/Transit (BAH RC/T)
BAH RC/T is a non-locality housing allowance for Service members in particular circumstances, for example, Reservists on active duty for 30 or fewer days. It also applies when a Service member is in transit from selected areas where no prior BAH rate exists (such as overseas). It does not vary by geographic location. BAH RC/T was set based on the old Basic Allowance for Quarters (BAQ), which was based on the national average for housing. BAH RC/T is published annually and is determined by increasing the previous year's rates by the national average percentage growth of housing costs.
BAH-Diff is the housing allowance amount for a Service member who is assigned to single-type quarters and who is authorized a basic allowance for housing solely by reason of the Service member's payment of Child support. A Service member is not entitled to BAH-Diff if the monthly rate of that Child support is less than the BAH-Diff. BAH-Diff is determined by the U.S. Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) and was equal to the difference between BAQ with dependents and BAQ without dependents in 1997 for the Service member's grade. BAH-Diff is published annually and is determined by increasing the previous year's rates by the percentage growth of military basic pay. For more information contact your Finance Office.
Note: Beginning with the 2012 BAH rates, the Department is publishing the average percentage breakdown between rent and utilities for each Military Housing Area. This additional information will assist Service members with making informed housing choices when relocating to a new area. https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/pdcFiles.cfm?dir=/Allowances/BAH/Component_Breakdown/
Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH):
BAH Component Breakdown for All Locations:
BAH Service Representatives:
ALARACT 097/2016 - Basic Allowance For Housing (BAH), Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA), And Cost Of Living (COLA) Secretarial Waiver Guidance: https://www.carlisle.army.mil/kmn/modules/inprocessing/documents/USABAHWaiver.pdf