Paycheck Chronicles

From The Mailbag: Pay for New Enlistees

Often, new military enlistees ask someone at home to be in charge of their finances while they are in school.  Those military pay charts can be confusing, and the people at home often don't understand why the whole paycheck isn't showing up in the bank account.  Here's a recent letter:

Kate,  my son is in Basic Military Training right now.    His base pay should be 1756.00 for an E-1 under two years.   He has finally been paid, and it was less than $1100.  Why isn't he being paid the right amount, and who do I call?  Mrs. Howell

Ms. Howell,

A new enlistee, with less than four months of active duty service is paid at a rate lower than the regular E-1 rate:  $1449.00 per month.  The regular E-1 rate is $1566.90 per month.  The $1756 amount you mention is for an E-2 with less than two years of service.

Just like in a civilian job, there will be the usual deductions for pay, including Social Security and Medicare, federal and state taxes.  Depending on your son's choices, there may also be deductions for Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI), and any other allotments that he may have set up.  There can also be special expenses during training, and they can be deducted directly from his pay.

You can't know what has and has not been paid without having access to his Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) statement.  A LES is like a pay stub:  it lists his pay and entitlements, plus all deductions.  On his LES, all things would be clearly explained.  He can access MyPay online to see his LES.  If he does not have MyPay access, he needs to set up an account.  He can also create an authorized user account that lets you see his LES.

While I know it is frustrating, there is no good way for anyone other than the military member to handle any pay errors.  Once you son has finished his training, and has reviewed his LES, he can get help from his command if he has questions or believes that there are errors.  It's not something that you or I can do for him.

Thanks for helping him with his finances while he is busy with training!


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