By Debbie Gregory.
As of January 1, 2015, the new rates for Department of Defense (DOD) basic pay, basic allowance for housing, basic allowance for subsistence, and cost of living allowance for the contiguous United States have taken effect.
Service members will see an increase of 1% to their basic pay in 2015. For enlisted service members, this means a monthly increase of $14.80 for E-1 personnel, up to a monthly increase of $519.10 for those in the E-9 paygrade with over 18 years of service.
The basic allowance for housing (BAH) rates for service members will increase by 0.5% in 2015, which equates to an average of approximately $17 per month. BAH rates are calculated using median current market rent and average utilities (including electricity, heat, and water/sewer) for each pay grade. BAH is factored separately in each pay grade, for personnel both with and without dependents.
The DOD implemented two changes to BAH rate computations for 2015. The Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act reduced housing rates, on average, 1% for service members. Renter’s Insurance, which made up approximately 1% of the allowance, was eliminated from the factor. Service members can calculate their 2015 BAH payment by using the basic allowance for housing calculator offered by MilitaryConnection.com.
The DOD’s basic allowance for subsistence (BAS) rates for military members will increase by 2.9% in 2015. The military’s basic allowance for subsistence is a nontaxable monthly payment intended to purchase food. The annual adjustments for this allowance are linked to changes in food prices, as measured by the annual change in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cost of Food. From October, 2013, through September, 2014, the index of food prices rose by 2.9%, generating the basis for the increased BAS rates. The new BAS rates are as follows:
$367.92 per month for enlisted members
$253.38 per month for officers
The DOD also released its 2015 contiguous United States (CONUS) cost of living allowance (COLA) rates. CONUS COLA is a taxable supplemental allowance designed to help offset higher prices in high-cost locations. COLA rates vary, based on location, pay grade, years of service and dependent status. Rates can increase or decrease, depending on the prices in a specific duty location compared to prices in an average CONUS location. Service members can calculate their CONUS COLA on the COLA calculator offered by MilitaryConnection.com.
For 2015, approximately 7,000 service members will see either an increase or no change to their COLA rate. Around 12,000 personnel will see a decrease in their CONUS COLA payments, while some 4,000 members will no longer receive a CONUS COLA payment.
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