Paycheck Chronicles

How Much Is Military Pay?

I see the same questions over and over again.   Some are easy, some are hard.  Some are easy and hard at the same time.  The question of "how much is military pay" is easy to explain but hard to answer because there are so many variables.  I regularly get questions like:  "How much money will I earn during basic training?" or "How much does an E-6 on deployment make each month?"  Like I said, it is a hard question to answer outright because there is no single answer.  However, I can explain it so you can figure your situation out yourself.

First, there is the issue of basic pay.  Basic pay is the same for all branches of the service and is based on rank and time in service.  You can find the 2012 pay charts here at  In addition to basic pay, there are a variety of special pays and allowances that an individual service member might receive.  The most common is Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) which is received by all military members after they have completed their initial training.  Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is received by all military members who are authorized BAH and/or not living in government provided barracks or aboard a ship.  You can also research BAH rates here at  Then there are wide variety of special pays and allowances that apply to individual circumstances.

Once you've calculated the entitlements, you have to subtract back out any deductions or allotments.  Again, the possible list is nearly endless but typically includes federal taxes, state taxes, Social Security, Medicare, and SGLI.  It might also include FSGLI, Tricare Dental, Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), government debts, savings plans, or any other sort of deduction or allotment that might be set up.  Each of these figures can be different based on your individual situation, such as the withholding you choose to have deducted for federal taxes.

The total monthly amount can be paid one or two times per month.   The system is designed so that if you receive your pay twice a month, the mid-month pay is half the estimated total monthly pay.  Therefore, changes to your pay and allowances may mean that your mid-month pay and your end-of-month pay are not the same amount.

As you can see, there is no single answer to any pay related question.  Everyone will have different variables to enter into the equation and therefore they will have different results.  The best way to keep up on your pay situation is to read and understand your Leave and Earnings Statement each month.  If there is something that you don't understand, ask a friend, a financial educator on base, or your finance department to help you learn.


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