For the approximately 200,000 service members who may be eligible for extra cash in their housing allowance through the end of the year, military officials have provided more details on eligibility and how to apply.
Defense officials announced on Sept. 24 that the temporary higher rates for Basic Allowance for Housing will take effect on Oct. 1 in 56 housing areas across the country. The increase will be retroactive to that start date, so don’t worry if you haven’t yet applied or been approved.
Active-duty members in 56 locations across the country are eligible for up to 20% higher Basic Allowance for Housing, or BAH, through the end of the year. But, depending on your situation, you may have to apply for it before Oct. 1 to get the maximum benefit.
Members must certify their housing costs have gone up in order to receive the higher payments. Depending on their military branch’s regulations, troops may not see the maximum increase if the certification is not done before Oct. 1, the day the new rates become effective.
The extra money is designed to ease the financial burden on service members and their families who have been affected by higher costs of rental housing and a shortage of housing in these designated military housing areas. It applies to troops with and without dependents.
According to a Defense Department press release, “the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on rental housing costs in the 56 affected markets. Notably, low availability and turnover of rental housing stock during the spring and summer months led to rental cost increases in many locations.”
Defense officials have estimated that about 200,000 troops DoD-wide could be eligible for the extra money, according to Army officials. If the maximum number of service members qualify for the extra money, it would cost the Defense Department about $159 million, according to DoD officials.
The increases range from 10 percent to 20 percent, and apply to eligible active-duty troops and full-time National Guard members in these 56 areas.
According to a Frequently Asked Questions memo posted on the Defense Travel Management Office’s website, military members must certify that their current housing costs exceed the new, temporarily increased BAH rate to be eligible for the increased payments.
Active-duty members who are eligible for increased payments should have been notified by email within the last few days with specific instructions on how to apply for the increase. According to the DoD, most services also have the information online regarding the change:
- Air Force
- Space Force
- Coast Guard
- Army members should contact their supporting S1/personnel office for further guidance and to receive an application.
Different branches have different reporting requirements. Some commands may provide locally produced memos or forms that may be used; others may require proof of payment or receipts.
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Authorized housing costs that may be included in the overall BAH calculation include things like rent, utilities, condo/homeowner’s association fees, internet and cable fees, trash collection fees, renter’s insurance premiums, personal property taxes, landscaping and tree removal fees, maid and house cleaning service fees, home appliance costs, etc.
Those who apply and are approved for the temporary increase by Oct. 1 should expect to see the payment in their Oct. 15 paychecks. Those who apply after that date should see a retroactive payment to either Oct. 1 or to the date that they can certify their higher housing costs, whichever is later.