I think I receive more emails about pay than anything else. So I’m going to try to address some of the most common questions. The pay rates given below are based on 2010 rates. All of these are assuming the soldier is married, lives off post and is stationed CONUS. If your soldier is single or lives on post, he will not receive BAH.
1. Will he get paid in basic training? If so, how much?
While your soldier is in basic, he will receive base pay based on his grade/rank. For instance, the base pay for an E-3 is $1,705.80. This pay is taxable while he is in training or at his duty station. If he is married, he will also receive BAH (housing) based on where the wife lives as well as FSA (family separation allowance). BAH can vary greatly depending on location. You can look up rates online – it is based on rank, zip code and whether there are dependents. FSA is $250/month and begins after the 30th day of separation. Be aware that FSA is normally $100/month but since the war in Iraq started, it has been $250/month. Allowances are NOT taxable regardless of whether he is in training, at his duty station or deployed.
2. How long will it take to get paid for the first time?
Your soldier’s pay will be direct deposited into his bank account on the 1st and 15th of each month. Some always seems to get the pay a few days ahead of time while others don’t receive it until the exact day. This largely depends on your bank. It will generally be about six weeks before he receives his first paycheck. Some may receive it sooner and some later but six weeks is a general rule of thumb.
3. What are clothing allowances?
Each year, your soldier will receive a clothing allowance. This is generally paid around his anniversary date. In 2010, a male with less than three years of service would receive $370.80. This allowance is to replace any uniforms, etc.
4. What pay will he receive once he is assigned to his duty station?
He will receive his base pay, BAS (food) and BAH. BAS in 2010 is $323.87. This allowance is not taxable. He may also be entitled to special pays such as airborne (commonly referred to as jump pay) which is an additional $150/month. Special pays are based on his MOS and any additional training he has received.
5. When will we receive his bonus?
Most people were told that their soldier would receive his bonus as soon as his training was complete. I know exactly ZERO people who have had it actually happen that way. His bonus is broken up over the time of his enlistment. He is eligible to receive up to $7,000 as his first payment. Any remaining bonus will be divided among the rest of his years of service. So if his bonus is $13,000 with a four year enlistment – he will receive $7,000 the first year and $2,000 per year thereafter. We have received my husband’s bonus at the first of each year, others receive it close to his anniversary date. The key – don’t count on it until its in your hands!
And remember, this bonus is taxable! If he receives a bonus while he is deployed, it is generally not taxable. But the bonus must be awarded overseas. For instance, if when it is time to receive his enlistment bonus he happens to be deployed, it will be taxed. Because technically when he was awarded the bonus (at the time of enlistment) he was stateside. If he re-enlists when he is overseas, it generally is not taxable because he earned the bonus while deployed.
6. What extra pay will he be awarded when he is deployed?
First, his pay is not taxable when he is overseas (state and federal). He will continue to receive his normal pay (base, BAS, BAH and any special pays). In addition, after 30 days, he will receive separation pay of $250 if he is married. He will also receive imminent danger/hazardous duty pay of $225 as well as location pay of $100. There have been many rumors that location pay was increasing to $750. While there is a bill for it, there is no sign that it will pass. The max location pay available now is $300 and the majority of soldiers only receive $100 so even if it increases to $750, its unlikely we’ll see that much of an increase. I know some who basically already had that money spent believing he would receive that much when he deployed and were disappointed to say the least when it didn’t show up. Don’t spend your money before you get it!
7. When will he receive raises?
While there is no guarantee, there is typically a cost of living raise in January of each year. Over the past few years, it has been in the 2.5-4% range. In addition, he will have an increase in pay when he is promoted to a new rank as well as with years of service (2nd year, 3rd year, 4th year and every even year after that).