More money for military families in 2013

More money for military families in 2013Here’s some good news for the new year, and it’s not even here yet! Some military families will see additional money in their paychecks in 2013. The annual adjustment for BAH and BAS were recently announced. BAH and BAS? While you may not score points in Scrabble with either word, these are important acronyms for military families. BAH means Basic Allowance for Housing, and BAS is the Basic Allowance for Substance.

BAH is a nontaxable allowance provided to eligible service members. The allowance varies worldwide and is based on the median current market rent, average utilities (including electricity, heat, and water/sewer), and average renter’s insurance. BAH is also calculated for each pay grade, both with and without dependents. For 2013 the average increase in BAH for military families is about $60 per month. You can calculate your BAH rate for 2013 before it hits your service member’s paycheck. Remember, BAH is based on your service member’s duty station, which may not be the same zip code where you live. (There are some exceptions to this guideline.)

I used the calculator and noticed the BAH rate for 2013 for our family was actually less than our 2012 rate. Yuck. But not to panic. A key feature of the BAH program is rate protection. This means our BAH will not decrease. This ensures military families who have made long-term housing commitments in the form of a lease or contract are not penalized if the area’s housing costs decrease. However, new families assigned to the area will receive the 2013 rate.

BAS is also a nontaxable allowance and is intended to replace the rations historically provided to service members. BAS rates are tied directly to the United States Department of Agriculture’s calculation of the increasing price of food. This not an allowance to feed your family. It is an allowance to offset the cost of food for the service member only. Enlisted service members will receive $352.27 a month, up from $348.44 per month in 2012. Officers will receive $242.60 a month, up from $239.96 in 2012.

Is this what you expected for the new rates? Are BAH and BAS allowances a key part of your family’s budget?

katiePosted by Katie Savant, Government Relations Information Manager at the National Military Family Association


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    We’re anticipating a PCS this summer to Leavenworth and have signed a lease on home there for this summer. (Odd, yes, but we had our reasons.) We signed it prior to the new BAH rates being announced, all of the homes we considered were at or just below the current rates. I was disheartened to discover that within two weeks of the new rates being released, the rent for every single one of the homes we had looked at was increased by $150. Nearly the same amount as the BAH increase. We will get to use the extra $150 towards utilities but anyone signing a lease after us will not get that benefit. I can’t help but wonder which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Do BAH increases respond to increases in rental costs or do rental costs increase with BAH rates?

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      Branching Out: A blog by the National Military Family Association

      BAH assessments are conducted over the course of a year looking at several factors including the average rent in an area, average cost of utilities, and average cost of renter’s insurance. The rates announced in late December reflect the survey from the previous year. Adjustments to rental rates are governed by local laws and individual lease agreements. It is not unusual for rates to change after BAH rates are released to reflect the current market. Many property managers do not realize BAH includes utilities and renter’s insurance. Hopefully the new rates leave enough to cover these expenses.

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