50% BAH cuts for dual military, 25% to military roommates

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by kp2001, May 30, 2015.

  1. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    http://www.stripes.com/opinion/dual...sing-allowance-cut-under-senate-plan-1.349209

    The Senate version of the 2016 NDAA courtesy of Senator McCain includes a provision to reduce the BAH given to mil to mil families by 50% and for those who have military roommates each would only be eligible for 75% of their allowance.

    This could mean a 20% pay cut(or possibly more) on October 1st for some families.

    Glad to see the Senate Armed Services Committee continues to look out for those who protect our country ....
     
  2. Rocko

    Rocko Member

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    How is it any of their business who a single E4 rooms with? So if they room with a civilian that is okay, but room with another service member and they punish them? I don't get that. The lower ranking enlisted struggle to pay their bills when living off base and room together to make it work.

    I know on some bases they are forcing the enlisted off base after they reach E4 because there is not enough on base housing. So they room together in order to make ends meet. BAS (About $80/week) is not enough to cover the food costs and the BAH provided puts them into a roach coach apartment room. They don't have the choice to live on base and eat at the mess. If they want to do this they need to at least make sure they have the choice.

    I'm all for cutting spending in the military and know there is a LOT of wasted money that could be cut. But taking money from your lowest paid members just because they room with another member in order to make ends meet is ludicrous.
     
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  3. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    As much as my first reaction was that of disapproval, there are some points I think are valid, realizing there is a difference between enlisted and officer.

    My son rooms with 2 other LT's in Hawaii, they each receive about $2600 per month BAH, that's a total of about $7800 per month. They rented a fairly new very nice 3 bedroom in the North Shore area with a great view, landscaping included, for $3400.00 per month, adding utilities it came to about 4K per month, They each pocketed about $1200 per month tax free. under the new rules they would have received a total of $5800. that would still leave $600 each extra each month.

    This provision will not eliminate the BAH for enlisted/officers that room together, just reduce it to 75% each. Just as an example, the BAH for Ft. Rucker is roughly 800 per month, if two soldiers decide to room together they would get a total of $1200 under the new system, These two soldiers would not in any way be forced into a Roach Coach Apartment with that amount of BAH.

    From what I've read only about 5% of the military are Mil-Mil Couples, the other 95% that marry outside the Military do not receive the extra pay per BAH, so this won't result in an across the board pay cut for the vast majority of the military.

    Granted, those that have been collecting this BAH under the existing program as married couples or roommates will see a big drop in take home pay. Hopefully they have been living off their base pay like they should and not counting on that double BAH as part of their monthly budget, that could turn out badly for them.

    I would like to see the military put a little more effort into the contract marriages that seem to be popular, none of these provisions seem to address that issue at all.
     
  4. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    But this language doesn't make that difference and neither does the original language. And I'm not sure I understand what you mean by a difference.

    So why shouldn't married members at least receive the same?

    But they do receive an increased BAH in the "with dependents" category and they also get other benefits such as being eligible for on base housing. Oh, you mil mil married couple want on base housing? Sorry, your spouse doesn't count as a dependent and therefore you need more kids than the non mil-mil couple to be afforded that opportunity. The non married roommates also have the opportunity to find non-military roommates if they so desire to return to their full entitlement. Married couples don't have that opportunity. If it's only 5% then is this really a cost-savings measure that makes any significant dent and worth the significantly decreased morale it will produce?

    So wait, you're saying I shouldn't have included in my budget approximately 20% of my take-home pay? Something that has been in place since approximately 1997 (prior to that it was BAQ/VHA). The variabilities of housing pay I take into account; however, when I made large financial decisions such as mortgages and the such I certainly did count on being paid the same as everyone else in my rank and years of service. I never suspected that the government would consider to not pay me as much as the person sitting in the office next to me.

    I hear this mentioned frequently, but in my now 14 years of service I have not once actually seen it. Sure I've heard of the one or two -offs that we see reported, but I really don't think this is "popular" nor pervasive. What is more pervasive is the young enlisted (doesn't happen as much with officers) who fall in love with the first thing that shows them some attention and gets married probably earlier than they normally would to be able to move out of the barracks and collect BAH. (Oh yeah, did you realize that since dual military couples without children aren't considered to have dependents that they could both be ordered to live in the barracks if they are below a certain rank??) Many of these "early marriages" end up failing due to this, but my guess is some of the marriages would have never happened had it not been for the lure of off-base housing.
     
  5. Rocko

    Rocko Member

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    I specifically mention E4's because the lower ranking will be hurt the worst. My eldest is enlisted and was forced off base due to overcrowding. He looked long and hard for a place to afford on his BAH and believe me it was bad. I was helping him look and he would have to live in a dump in order to pay rent, utilities and food without digging into what little he is getting for base pay. He rooms with two other guys(Got a decent 3 bedroom apartment) so they can make ends meet and have a decent place to stay. So now our "Good ole boy" Politicians who are getting rich off taxpayer dollars decide they don't need that much?

    I didn't comment on the married or officer as I can't speak personally on that yet. My first thought is that if they are not married they both get BAH at the single rate. At the very least they should be entitled to at least keep that if they get married... If you only pay one BAH at the married rate you basically have penalized them for getting married.

    I also think if they do go forward with this, they better phase it in. Current service members obviously considered that money in their budgets. They risk many servicemembers filing for bankruptcy if they just take it away. Lenders and renters will still require that monthly payment regardless of how your income is reduced....
     
  6. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I'm trying to get my mind around the difference between co-habitating with other members of the military and with a spouse (specifically why the numbers are different and seem to "penalize" the spouses). The only reason I can immediately think of is that it's far more likely spouses will live together every chance they get. Not a good explanation, but maybe I just need more time.

    As far as BAH is concerned, we should remember what BAH is actually for…. housing. It is adjusted for the area you live in. It's not a bonus. It's not a reward. It's meant to help to find a place to live and supplement you.

    Fresh out of CGA I found a place to live in Wildwood Crest, NJ, just down the street from Coast Guard Training Center Cape May where my cutter was located (at the time). We found a decent size place, and split the cost between me, a shipmates (and CGA classmates) and another classmate from our sister ship. I can't remember the cost, but it wasn't "cheap." Splitting three O-1 BAHs though, we pocketed A LOT. In fact, we thought it wise. And probably for us it was. We saved more, beyond our base pay. But was it wise for the Coast Guard? Was it was to pay someone an amount that SHOULD be enough to live on in an area, only to have them pile on two other people with the same amount (keeping in mind that BAH is all coming from the same source?) I'm not so sure.

    If you can't afford a place after combining 2-3 BAHs…. you're living outside of your means, even if the BAH is decreased by 25%. Too often we want a 5 bedroom, 3 full baths, pool etc…. living the high life…. because for awhile we kind of, sort of…. can. Of course, that's only possible if we split the place with 3 other guys and no one else is sitting pretty like that in the private sector.

    But at the same time….. base pay isn't big…. and many people factor in the BAH into how much they will actually be able to take home (and let's not forget, BAH isn't taxed).

    My friends and I still would have been able to afford the house in Wildwood Crest with this decrease, but we wouldn't have had the same savings at the end of the day. But then… BAH is not for savings, is it? It's for housing.
     
  7. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    Hey you two military members got married?! That's great! Here's a $10K+ pay cut! Oh by the way, we can still deploy both of you at once, keep you on 12 hour shift hours and weekends. And you decided to have a child! That's great! Now take that pay cut and try to find childcare during all those off hours when the CDC (if we even allow you to have one!) or day cares are not open.

    I have several dual military friends. In one case, they are a pilot (who is always TDY and often deployed) and intel (she works 12 hour shifts on any day of the week). The have had to hire a full-time nanny to take care of their kids and it drains her entire BAH + a bit. No one else in the country suddenly loses a chunk of their pay/income/salary for getting married and military members have earned every one of those benefits when they signed up. Doing some rough napkin math: at 40K dual military couples, remove BAH from 30-40% of them and the government saves around $20 million/yr of a $1000 million/yr program (~1-2%). I can think of some easy ways to save that $20 M without punishing a small minority of members who make the same sacrifices as everyone else.

    Sadly, truly sadly, I see so many military members arguing that this is a great idea and why should these dual military members get to rake in the money like high hogs. Got to do a mini-facebook purge this last week.
     
  8. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    BAH is just a part of an archaic system where the husband was the head of household and breadwinner while the wife stayed at home with the kids. When almost every military relationship was like that, the apportionment to salary + BAH + BAS didn't result in any strange adverse consequences. Then things changed and the "standard" relationship for a military member wasn't that old stereotype. But we never decided to redo salary in an appropriate way. BAH + COLA is meant to equalize earnings to the cost of living across the country. Since the major driver of COL is housing, it made since to use BAH as the mechanism to make sure that an O-2 in California is roughly making the same level of income as the O-2 in Oklahoma. Just like most major employers will adjust the salary of their employees based on where they move them to account for cost of living. Keeping the old system was fine as most people still were in typical relationships with more civilian spouses working than in the past.

    If BAH was REALLY for just housing, we would make members go find housing, bring in the contract, and then pay them up to the housing limit based on the contract. Then you could say its only meant for housing. Instead the military says,"average housing for a person like you in this area is $x based on your demographics, so here's the cost-adjusted remainder of your salary, use it how you would like." The tax-free nature is just how it was established years ago. If the housing argument was really about paying just for housing, every military member with a working civilian spouse should also have their BAH deducted by some amount because it's absolutely the worst kind of mental gymnastics to suggest that a civilian's salary in no way includes housing so they are exempt from this pay cut. But then again, how could they sneak that kind of legislation by when it would affect most of the military with a pay cut instead of a small minority who aren't getting the support from fellow military members. Of course, I have no idea what THAT feels like....

    A dollar is a dollar. Cut a dual military couple's second BAH and you just cut their salary for some horrid mental gymnastics while you'll still let units blow their use or lose budgets at the end of the fiscal year on unneeded flat panels and new furniture. (Or that bloated weapons contract). Please tell me that you're being fiscally responsible AND supporting military members. I have choice words for that.
     
  9. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    What is our obligation to make accommodations to married service members - another military member or civilian?

    When I was a single soldier I didn't quite understand why a fellow officer that was married got more BAH than me when both of us did the same thing at work. After I got married, I still didn't understand why I got more BAH than a single officer when my workload didn't change.
     
  10. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    I think the dependent rate thing is silly as well. Granted, I kind of laugh at some that are outraged. My DH's dependent rate for me here in San Antonio is all of $34 more than the non-dependent rate. BUT, that's apples an oranges for eliminating one member's BAH. Totally different arguments and scenarios.

    Something I forgot to say in my previous post was that I think the salary should be updated for today's military. I would say, eliminate BAH/BAS and roll them (tax-adjusted) into the salary and then provide COLA as the cost of living adjustment for each location. So instead of base pay + BAS + BAH + COLA (where applicable), I think it should be base pay + COLA.
     
  11. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    So in the future there will be fewer mil to mil marriages and a lot more cohabitation. Is this a great country or what? Thank you big Gov!
     
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  12. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    To add on to your points, hard to have a good discussion, when folks disagree on the BAH itself. Without validating the BAH itself, can't argue about changes in the BAH as good or bad.
     
  13. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    To boil down the argument in its simplest form: married mil to mil and mil to mil room mates deserve a pay cut because (and when) they get to reside together. Policy does not apply to married mil to civ and mil to civ room mates.

    I mean, come on, is that not absolutely absurd?

    Side note: From a policy stand point, you will literally create a gender pay gap in the military for women that does not currently exist. The policy would disproportionately affect women military members who disproportionally marry other military members at a higher rate than men do. Some will say, "so what" but that will not look pretty in the media.
     
  14. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    I must admit that, when I was on AD, I was annoyed that a married officer received more BAH than a single officer because, for the most part, two married people (without kids) can live in the same size apartment/house as a single person. Why should the single person get less merely b/c he/she doesn't choose to get married? But those have been the rules for years so . . .

    That said, the current proposal doesn't seem fair either. If the goal is to pay less money to military personnel who are sharing their housing, then it shouldn't matter whether the roommate is military or not. For example, John Doe lives in a $1000/month house and gets $400 in BAH. He shares it with 2 people so his rent is only $333/month and he "pockets" $67/month. Under the new law, if those people are civilians, everything stays the same. However, if the other two are military, each receives only $300/month and they now can't afford that apartment (together they only get $900). That doesn't seem fair.

    IMO, housing is like per diem. The government decides what you get based on your rank, your dependents, and where you live. If you choose to live in a shack or room with 8 other people and pocket the extra money (just like if you choose to buy frozen dinners while on TDY), that's your business. If you want to spend every penny and then some to have a nice place, that's your business. I don't see it as the business of the government in monitoring whom you live with (provided, of course, what you do is legal).
     
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  15. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Well you see it as a pay cut, some might not see as a pay cut. Perhaps where you live, folks might be expressing nothing is good enough for our service members but not everyone think military service members are overworked and under compensated.

    Personally, for me only, I don't like the military compensation discussions as I didn't sign up for the money and I know how the military compensation system works. So if I don't like it I always had an option to walk away when my service obligation was up.

    It is what is as some civilians haven't seen regular pay raises and they usually don't get extra compenation based on their martial/dependent status. So some of these civilian folks might not get angry about this "pay cut."

    On a side note, isn't it abusrd that married mil to mil deserve pay raise (BAH single + BAH single to BAH dependent + BAH Single).
     
  16. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    The difference I referenced is the amount of BAH paid, in my area Enlisted E-1 receives $1401.oo, an O-1 receives $1671.00

    I don't disagree with this, if they are going to allow non married soldiers to both receive 75% of their BAH if they live together, then it should be the same for married couples. Either that or just allow one BAH for non married soldiers that live together, but I agree, it shouldn't be different.

    I have no doubt there would be a big drop in morale with those Mil-Mil Married Couples if this happens, even with those single soldiers that live together. I guess it will come down to whether the Pentagon feels it can weather the storm from a small percentage effected.

    The government does pay each person equal, BAH is not part of the base pay that is equal to others with the same rank and TIS. As LITS said, BAH is for housing and is separate from the base pay. Soldiers married to non military spouses have always only received only their BAH, I'm sure many of them have looked across the desk at someone doing the same job with the same rank and TIS and wondered why they receive 20% more pay just because they married a military member, why should they be able to rent or buy a far better house/apartment based only on their marital status.

    Not saying I agree completely with what they are trying to do, but I can see where they are coming from with these proposals. I have a feeling this is only one more change that will be added to the already changing retirement process. Will this hurt retention, I'm sure at first it will, It will take a while to recruit new members under a new system and whether they will be able to hold on to them is another discussion altogether.

    Just being hones here. for the majority of spouses in the military it's hard to have an upward moving career since you seem to move every 3 or so years. When two Military members marry they can continue their careers much easier, you may very well see these couples decide to leave the military together so they can continue having two careers outside the military. Those service members that are married to non military spouses won't see any change in their pay structure so they may be more likely to stay put.

    Again, for some of this I was just playing Devils Advocate from their point of view.
     
  17. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I'm not sure there is anyplace where the BAH is as low as $400.00 per month.

    Even in Alabama where the BAH is 798.00 per month for an E-1, that is more then enough to rent a decent apartment off base. If 3 service members lived together receiving only 75% of their BAH, that would total $1795.50 per month, they could live in a pretty nice place and still pocket a fair some. They certainly would not be in a position where they could not afford rent.
     
  18. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    Two military members married both receive non-dependent BAH. If they had a child, then they would get one of those BAHs at the dependent rate.

    I still don't get how this is a thing. A doctor marries another doctor and they now have doctor x + doctor y income. Two military members marry so they now have member x + member y income. How is it logical that member x + member y should be less than than their combined individual incomes when they marry. A civilian's income includes housing, food, etc. Military pay just has this bizarre artifact where they broke it into parts. What you're saying is that two O-1s who make ~$50K a year each with all allowances should have one make $50K and the other make $30K (O-1 base pay is $30K) when they get married. So now that O-1 isn't making typical college educated income, they are making a whole hell of a lot lower.

    To flip this whole absurdity, should we demand that every military member with a civilian spouse who works should also receive reduced BAH? If you seriously say that civilian income doesn't include housing, I don't know what kind of logic world you live in. "Oh Snuffy's husband who is a doctor has $xK salary, but they don't pay for his housing so obviously we shouldn't account for that." Just because housing isn't an explicit piece of civilian salary doesn't mean that housing isn't a part of salary....a dollar is a dollar! But then you'd affect more people and suddenly those all ok with reducing the income of that dual military couple are pissed. I got mine so I don't care about you...
     
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  19. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    IMPO, I see BAH as part of the pay package for employment.

    L3 Com, Booze Allen, SAIC, Lockheed, Raytheon, Rand, etc. etc., etc all believe that when they offer an employment opportunity that their employees will use part of their pay for housing.

    Military members impo are told this is the amount we expect you to pay. It is just a clear cut item.

    I find this is wrong because the military is penalizing their employees.

    Maybe just me, but if 2 married Harvard professors (same level) were told that one would be paid less because they were married, and assumed part of their pay goes to housing, I would expect a huge lawsuit against Harvard for discrimination. Wouldn't you?

    xposted with hornetguy.
     
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  20. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    It was a hypothetical example with easy math.:)
     

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