Paycheck Chronicles

From The Mailbag: New Marriage Questions


I love questions from newlyweds, or people who are getting married soon.  It makes me feel young again, and also remember how confusing the military was when I first got married.

Dear Kate,

I just got married to a soldier, and he is updating his record with the Army.  How long after dependency data is updated will you start receiving Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)?

Thank you,


I hear this question a lot.  If only I had an accurate answer!

Hi Tiffany,

BAH comes with regular paychecks. If the service member is in a regular unit, it should only take one or two paychecks before BAH is included. However, students at training commands often report longer waits for updates to personnel information.  Once BAH begins, it will be back-dated to the date of eligibility.

Welcome to military life!


And then there is the question of being apart when you are newly wed.

Dear Kate,

I just got married.  My new wife has returned home while I finish school.  Where will she get BAH - where she is, or where I am?



This one is a little trickier.

Dear John,

Congratulations on your marriage!  I'm sorry you have to be separated right now.  Where you will receive BAH depends on your situation with school.  In general, you will receive BAH for your location, regardless of where your wife lives.  However, there are some situations in which BAH can be based upon her location.  Schools can go either way, depending on the length of the course, the provisions for living arrangements, and other variables.  In general, if the school was a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move for you, and you are not required to live in the barracks or other government provided accommodation, then you will receive BAH for your location.

You will need to check with your finance folks to determine the details of your school and how they apply to where you will receive BAH.  Keep in mind that if you are currently residing in the barracks, but are not required to do so by the school, you may be asked to leave the barracks and obtain your own housing once you begin receiving BAH.

Best wishes to your wife and you,


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