According to the Department of Defense announcement on December 22, 2014 in Washington D.C., most service members will receive a one percent pay raise in basic pay. For example, an E-4 that has 3 years of service will see an increase in basic pay of $22.20 per month. An O-3 with 6 years of service will receive a basic pay increase of $54.30 per month in 2015. General and flag officers will not see an increase in pay in 2015.
In addition to the increase in basic pay, there will also be changes to basic allowance for housing (BAH), basic allowance for subsistence (BAS), and cost of living allowance rates (COLA) which took effect on January 1, 2015.
BAH Basic Allowance for Housing
BAH rates for service members will increase on average 0.5 percent, or $17 per month. BAH rates are calculated by using average utilities including water/sewer, electricity, water, sewer along with median current market rent amounts. There were two changes made to calculate the BAH rate for 2015. Renter’s insurance was eliminated and it contributed an average of one percent to the BAH rates. The housing rates for service members was reduced an average of one percent as a result of the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.
Even with the reductions of BAH rates in 2015, individual rate protection for service members remains an integral part of the BAH program. So, even if rates decline a service member who consistently maintains their BAH eligibility in a given location will not see a rate decrease. This includes the reduction of renter’s insurance and the housing rates for service members. This ensures that service members who have made long-term commitments in regards to a lease or contract are not penalized if local housing costs decrease.
The BAH payment calculator can be found at http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/bahCalc.cfm.
BAS Basic Allowance for Subsistence
The basic allowance for subsistence is a monthly non-taxable cash payment to service members intended to be used to buy food. The BAS rates for military members will increase by 2.9 percent from 2014 to 2015. For enlisted members this increase amounts to $367.92 per month. The increase for officers amounts to $253.38 per month. The BAS rate increase is calculated using the annual change in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cost of Food at Home Index which rose 2.9% from the beginning of October 2013 to the end of September 2014.
COLA Cost of Living Allowance
CONUS COLA is a taxable supplemental allowance designed to offset higher prices in high cost locations. Rates vary based on pay grade, location, dependant status, and years of service. Rates can increase or decrease depending on the prices in a specific duty location compared to prices in an average CONUS location. Roughly 12,000 service members will see a decrease in their CONUS COLA payments. Roughly 7,000 service members will see an increase or no changes in their CONUS COLA payments, and around 4,000 service members will no longer receive a CONUS COLA payment.
The CONUS COLA calculator can be found at http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/conusCalc.cfm.
The military pay calculator can be found at http://militarypay.defense.gov/mpcalcs/Calculators/RMC.aspx.
The military pay chart can be found at http://www.dfas.mil/militarymembers.htm.