Enlist : Basic Allowance for Housing
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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 paygrade (rank).

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.

What criteria is used to determine what type and amount of BAH you will receive?
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 pay raise.

Partial BAH
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 137 (PDF).

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Click Here to read the Department of Defense December 2004 press release.

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