Senate Reduces BAH for Servicemembers Who Reside Together

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By Debbie Gregory.

How would you feel if your employer cut your salary because you and a co-worker were living together?

Well, the Senate has approved a fiscal 2017 defense authorization that calls for reduced housing allowances as part of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (S. 2943), with 85 senators in support and just 13 opposing.

The verbiage states that servicemembers who share off-base housing stateside will have the benefit cut.

The Senate wants the housing benefit for military troops to be more like the one offered to the State Department’s foreign service officers, who are compensated for actual rental or housing costs.

Beginning January 1, 2018, the Senate legislation sets the allowance for new entrants at “the actual monthly cost of housing” or an amount “based on the costs of adequate housing” for each military housing area, according to a copy of the legislation. It also states two or more service members occupying the same housing would split the allowance.

The BAH amount caps individual monthly payments to the lesser of two amounts: either what individuals actually pay to rent housing or to a local BAH maximum based on their rank and dependency status.

Last year the Senate proposed two other controversial changes to BAH. Neither survived final negotiations with the House.

The Senate committee under John McCain has said that the perception of housing allowances has become distorted from the original intent, which was to provide a housing benefit for servicemembers in recognition of the transient nature of military service, and in further recognition of the reality that civilian spouses are often unemployed and sacrifice careers of their own.

The DOD has made BAH integral to its calculation of Regular Military Compensation, which is used to compare compensation to civilian salaries and track the adequacy of military pay.

Although it’s a done-deal, what do you think? Is this fair?

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.