Paycheck Chronicles

Mail Call: No Pay Causes Problems


Many military members are surprised when their paycheck is less than expected, or when no pay comes at all.  There are usually two reasons why that happens:  either finance has messed up completely, or the service member has been overpaid and is now paying back the debt.

This week, I heard from the father-in-law of a deployed service member who was not getting paid.

My son in-law is deployed in Afghanistan. His pay has been docked for an over-payment which he believes had been paid off. The military is taking 100% of his pay leaving my daughter (his wife) in a very bad financial spot, not able to make ends meet. Who can my daughter contact to fix this problem?
Yup, that's a problem, and not an uncommon problem.  I hope my answer was helpful.
Dear Concerned Dad,

Unfortunately, these matters are best handled by the military member.  IF your daughter has a power of attorney to deal with pay and finance issues, the local finance office might be willing to talk to her.  They may be able to figure out the confusion about the debt, or arrange a payment plan so that they are can pay it off over a few months.

I recommend that your daughter or son-in-law pull his Leave and Earnings Statements (LES) from the MyPay system, so that they can be sure about the debt.  The military finance systems are confusing, and it is possible that he does owe the debt, but it is also possible that he does not owe the debt.  The only way to know for sure is to look at the documentation.  If there has been a mistake, he should be able to prove it with the LES and resolve the matter quickly.

In the immediate situation, I am assuming that your daughter does not have an emergency fund.  She should contact all her creditors to explain the situation.  She should also reach out to the appropriate relief society (Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Army Emergency Relief, Air Force Aid Society) to see about a short-term loan to cover her most urgent basic living expenses.  I am not intimately familiar with the policies of all branch's relief societies, so I am not sure what type of assistance she might be able to get.

To turn this bad situation into a positive, your daughter and her husband should be sure that any future overpayments are set aside into a savings account.  He will know that he has been overpaid if he checks his LES each month.  In addition, it is essential that they build up an emergency fund of several months expenses.  This is useful for much more than pay problems.  Budgets can be broken by PCS moves (especially overseas), emergency travel home, and all sorts of other surprises.  In addition, minimizing their monthly obligations will make any future surprises easier to handle.

I hope that they are able to get this straightened out very quickly.  Thanks for being there to provide guidance and emotional support to your daughter.  I'm sure she appreciates it.


I hope he didn't think I was being a smarty-pants because I pointed out that they needed an emergency fund.  It is the number one thing that people can do to improve their financial situations and prevent emergencies such as this one.

What sort of pay problems have you had?  How did you handle it?  What other suggestions would you give this family?

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