Paycheck Chronicles

Base Pay is Base Pay. Period.


I'm a little surprised that I have to write this, but it seems that I do. The military does not pay people more money because they have dependents. There is no increase in pay for getting married, or for having children. Base pay is base pay, period.

There are three pays that can be affected by your dependency status: Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), Cost of Living Allowance (COLA), and Family Separation Allowance (FSH).

There are two ways that BAH is affected by having dependents. First, if you not authorized BAH due to your rank, and you acquire a dependent, you are automatically authorized BAH. Second, if you are authorized BAH at the without dependent rate, and you acquire a dependent, then your BAH rate will change to with dependents.

There are a few notes about BAH and dependents:

  • In most cases, BAH is paid for the location where the service member is stationed.
  • BAH is typically not paid to service members who reside in the barracks in the US. Geographical bachelors may request permission to live in the barracks and still receive BAH for their family, but it is not guaranteed.
  • BAH is paid to service members who are on an unaccompanied tour.  This BAH is paid for the location that the family is located.
COLA is a special allowance paid to offset the higher cost of living in overseas locations and certain high-cost areas within the US.  COLA is the only allowance that changes based on the number of dependents you have.

FSH is paid to service members who are separated from their families for more than 30 days due to military obligations.  It is not paid for voluntary separations, like when the service member moves ahead of the family to a new duty station.

I've tried to keep this short and simple, but I'm sure that will create some questions.  Put them in the comments, and I'll answer!

Update 3/11/2011:  I have been seeing a lot of comments (here and on Facebook) saying that this is a stupid question.  I agree with the theory that it could be a stupid question.  However, I wrote it because I get TONS of questions from service members asking when they will see their pay raise for having a child, or new wives asking when their husband will get paid for being married.  I'm glad so many people understand the military pay system well, my job is to help educate the rest of the folks who are confused.


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