Military Compensation Pay

Basic U.S. military pay is determined by grade and the number of years in active service. Military personnel pay grade or rank is calculated from the official date of advancement, and pay raises are based on longevity,  your accumulated service time in each branch of the armed forces.

United States Military Basic Pay and Allowances

Exceptions exist where pay grade and service time are not considered:

Frocked: Service members do not receive the pay of an advanced rank when in "frocked" status,

Frocked U.S. military personnel are members of the armed forces that are commissioned or non-commissioned officers who have been selected for promotion, but are wearing the insignia of the higher grade prior to the official date that their military promotion is to officially take place.

Statutory Periods: There are statutory periods when service time in an armed force component may not be considered. In the case where there is a break in service, the time between periods of service is usually not considered part of the time served when calculating military pay rate.

The basic pay date for most military personnel who serve on active duty without a break in service is the first date of active or inactive service.

The military components personnel office is responsible for providing the data used to calculate pay rate, including: basic pay date, total active federal military service date, total commissioned federal military service date, along with several other dates that may be used to calculate pay based on the nature of the armed force member's service.

Special Pay Exist for Demanding Duties Including:

  • Navy and Marine career sea pay is special pay for the greater than normal rigors of assignment to sea duty like submarine duty.
  • Aviator and Aircrew Member Pay
  • Special Duty Assignment Pay (SDAP) - A duty assignment characterized by extremely demanding duties or duties that demand an unusual degree of personal responsibility.
  • Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay for activities such as parachute jumping, search and seizure operations, aircraft flight deck duty, chemical munitions, explosives and demolition duty, highly toxic fuels, pesticides, viruses or bacteria, propellants duty, experimental subject duty pay for human experimental situation duty.
  • Imminent Danger Pay Including, Hostile Fire Pay, hostile mine explosion event, underwater diving pay.
  • Selective Reenlistment Bonus (SRB)
  • Enlisted Supervisor Retention Pay Program (ESRP) incentive for members assigned to Nuclear Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC)

Guides to Veteran Compensation Benefits

Military Pay Allowances

Military Pay Allowances can be a very large part of military compensation. A wide range of military allowance benefits exist, and they have a wide range of requirements that go along with them. Most allowances are non-taxable, and many apply to certain personal circumstance. (i.e. pay grade held, location, marital status, etc.)


Family Separation Allowance (FSA) - FSA provides added expense compensation for enforced family separation.

Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) - COLA is a cash allowance for high cost of living areas. Service members must be permanently assigned to a high cost area, either in the United State or Oversees to receive COLA.

Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) - BAS is a rate based on the service members' food and subsistence costs only, and is not intended to cover a spouse or family. All enlisted military members in a proper status draw the full BAS monthly rate, this rate is slightly lower for Officers. Service members drawing BAS are required to pay for their own meals, even if they are provided by the government.

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) - BAH is paid to uniformed service members to provide compensation for housing based on their pay grade, zip code, and dependency status. Housing allowances are paid when qualifying members are temporarily residing in barracks, or when government quarters are not provided.

Clothing Allowance - A clothing allowance is given to help pay for uniforms, uniform maintenance, and other clothing costs to Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers.

Child Support Allowance - Tax support for active duty members dictates that those who are married, and members with custodial custody of children are considered to "have dependents". These members receive a child support allowance full-rate BAH, even if they reside temporarily in the barracks for training, job school, or unaccompanied overseas assignment. However, military members who are paying child support and do not have custody, *ARE NOT* authorized to reside in barracks and receive full-rate BAH. Instead, these members are paid an entitlement called BAH-DIFF, or BAH Differential. The BAH-DIFF rate falls between the full married rate and full single rate of BAH Type II.

Relocation Moving Allowance - The military pays a moving allowance for transporting household goods in a permanent change-of-station move.

Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA) - TLA covers the cost of temporary housing at the beginning and end of a move..

Military Dislocation Allowance (DLA) - DLA is provided to single service members and those with dependents to defray moving costs. DLA is calculated based on rank and dependency status.