What is BAH or Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)
and why is it improtant? It began in January 1998.
It replaced the Variable Housing Allowance (VHA), and Basic
Allowance for Quarters (BAQ). If you are unable to live on
a military base the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) pays
military personnel a "Basic Allowance for Housing"
(BAH) which is intended to supplement their salary and make
it possible for them to provide adequate, safe housing for
themselves and their dependents. BAH is not considered income
and in not taxable.
The DOD's goal is that as of January 2005, Basic Allowance
for Housing (BAH) rates will cover 100% of the average rental
costs for the type of dwelling authorized for the specific
There are several types of BAH to satisfy various housing
situations that occur among military members. In general,
the amount of BAH you receive depends on your location, pay
grade, and whether you have dependents.
You may be entitled to some BAH amounts if you are residing
separately from your dependents. This occurs in situations
involving unaccompanied overseas tours or having a dependent
child that resides with a former spouse. The rules regarding
these situations can become quite complex. The BAH types for
these situations are described in detail below.
is used to determine what type and amount of BAH you will
There are a number of circumstances that are factored into
the housing arrangements available to a particular service
member. Rank, marital status, and number of dependents are
critical elements used in this process. Those with higher
rank or more dependents have more options. If you are married
and living with your spouse and/or minor dependents, you will
either live in on-base housing, or be given a monetary allowance
called BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) to live off-base.
The amount of BAH is determined by your rank, location, and
whether or not you have dependents. BAH is an "allowance,"
not a "pay," and is not taxable.
BAH-II is the housing allowance for members in particular
circumstances, such as members returning to CONUS from Overseas,
reservists on active duty less than 20 weeks, etc. It does
not vary by geographic location. BAH-II was set based on the
old Basic Allowance for Quarters (BAQ), which was based on
the national average for housing. BAH-II is published annually
and is determined by increasing the previous year's table
by the percentage growth of housing costs.
BAH-DIFF is the housing allowance amount for a member who
is assigned to single-type quarters and who is authorized
a basic allowance for housing solely by reason of the member's
payment of child support. A member is not entitled to BAH-DIFF
if the monthly rate of that child support is less than the
BAH-DIFF. BAH-DIFF is determined by the Secretary of Defense
and was equal to the difference between BAH-II with dependents
and BAH-II without dependents for the member's grade. BAH-Diff
is published annually and is determined by increasing the
previous year's table by the percentage growth of the military
A member without dependents who is living in government quarters
is entitled to a Partial BAH.
Pentagon Increases Housing Allowance
Monthly housing allowances for 910,000 service members
living off base in the United States will climb by an average
of 9 percent, effective Jan. 1, say Defense Department officials.
The rise in individual rates, however, will vary significantly,
from no change for some grades in some areas to as much
as 20 to 30 percent for military renters in high-cost areas
such as Hawaii. The 2005 Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)
rates not only will keep pace with an average 4.4 percent
rise in rental costs nationwide over last year but are high
enough also to close a remaining 3.5 percent gap between
2004 BAH and median rental expenses nationwide. BAH recipients
will enjoy a fifth and final "above-inflation"
annual adjustment that since 2000 has eliminated a 20 percent
disparity between stateside allowances and rental costs
reported in housing surveys. With the new rates, out-of-pocket
costs for stateside renters will fall to zero, assuming
they rent at the local median cost for the type of housing
deemed appropriate to their pay grade. To apply for BAH,
use form DD