There are several different types of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) that may be relevant and helpful for your family- no matter if you are someone who is in basic training or are a seasoned military veteran. Without knowing your specific circumstances, we can tell you on a general level that the degree of BAH that you receive is based on where you are housed, how much money you make, and whether you have children. The BAH that you receive has more to do with where you are assigned for your military duties rather than where you are a resident.
The amount of BAH that you receive can change over time depending upon whether you live with your dependents. Whether you live overseas or if your child lives with an ex-spouse are also relevant factors to consider when you are trying to determine how much BAH you may be able to receive. The Finance Office for your military branch or one located at your post or station of duty is a great resource for you to rely upon if you need specific answers about a particular issue regarding BAH. The attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are experienced at helping military families sort their way through the complexities of a divorce and we would be honored to speak to you about any legal questions that you may have, as well.
How will children have an impact on your BAH?
Having children is one of life’s greatest joys but it can also present challenges- especially during a divorce. When you are going through a divorce as an active-duty member of the military those challenges are especially difficult to manage oftentimes. Your spouse is hopefully providing them with comfort and guidance during a difficult time but that may not necessarily be the case. Additionally, if your divorce is especially contentious then you could find yourself in a position where you need to be able to ensure that your spouse is not talking to the children about things that are inappropriate or downright false about you.
When you have children in a divorce you are going to want to provide them with as much stability and consistency as possible. Remember that your children may be resilient, but they have little to no life experiences compared to you and your spouse. Therefore, they are at a disadvantage when it comes to preparing for the divorce and handling all of the expectations that surround the case. The least you can do, many parents would argue, is ensure that the children have their housing and basic needs as ensured.
If you are on permanent military duty in one of the 50 US states and are not also furnished housing by the government, you would be eligible for Basic Allowance for Housing. Whatever your permanent duty zip code is and how many children you have will be relevant factors when it comes to determining how much money you will be able to receive. The same would apply if you were stationed overseas, the main difference being that the allowance would be called Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA). You would receive BAH if overseas and not accompanied by any of your children. Finally- you may receive partial BAH f you are living in government housing and have no children but are married.
BAH Reserve component/transit pertains mostly to members who are military reservists or serve on the national guard. If you are a member who is activated for fewer than 30 days then your housing allowance would be different than the types that we have discussed so far in today's blog post. An additional group that you may be a part of that could be relevant to this discussion is if you are in transit from an overseas duty location and have not received BAH before.
An interesting aspect of BAH is that some military members can receive it to pay child support, for example, if they are assigned to single quarters. This is known as BAH-Diff. Keep in mind that members of the military cannot receive BAH-Diff if the monthly amount of child support that they need to pay is less than the BAH-Diff amount.
This overview was intended to provide you with the basic information about BAH that you and your family may be interested in knowing now that you are going through a divorce. However, as with anything in life, the devil is in the details. It can be simple at first glance but can also become more complicated depending upon the circumstances that you and your family find yourselves in. Having an experienced family law attorney like those with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can be just what you need to care for your family adequately and fully while you go through a divorce. We have worked with military families for many years and know how to maximize your position with the military for the benefit of your loved ones.
Who can get housing through the military?
There are only limited resources in the military when housing is concerned. Dorms, barracks, and even housing on and off base can be in short supply depending on your military branch, location, rank, and other factors and considerations. When no housing is available then you would likely have the option to stay off-based and then get BAH in support of the rent that you need to pay.
A question that the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan receive with some frequency is whether someone who is just starting their military career- in basic training or tech school- can receive BAH as far as their military service. The answer would be, yes, but only if you have children or other dependents. As with BAH overall the location of your dependents will determine how much BAH you will receive.
You do not always have to live in military housing if it is available, either. It is sometimes the case that you will need to live in military housing if it is made available to you but much of the time you can choose to live elsewhere if that is your preference. Let's consider a situation where you are a junior member of the military and have a requirement that you live on base in a dorm or barrack. That is a standard requirement that would be in place until you reach a certain rank or have children.
In other situations, if you are called upon to live overseas then the requirement that you live on base or in military housing of some sort is more certain. The reason is that in many places finding off-base housing can be difficult. Either the number of available units is limited, senior members of the military may also be accounting for units or both situations may be true at the same time. You should consider the likelihood of your being able to live off base as well as the needs of your family if you are ever in a position where you can rank or even choose your next assignment.
What are the different rates of BAH and how are they determined?
When it comes to determining the rates of BAH, that task falls to the Defense Travel Management Office. To calculate BAH the Defense Travel Management Office will collect information on housing costs across the country which includes specific areas like rent and utility payments. Once that aggregate data is collected the Office will break it down into categories for apartments, single-family homes, duplexes, etc. This allows the military to give specific outlays for BAH based on the specific circumstances that you as a military member may find yourself in. There is no one size fits all equation for BAH.
Based on your pay grade and the status of your dependents you can be assigned a particular profile when it comes to housing. This profile by and large determines how much BAH you will be allotted. If you are a lower-ranking member of the military and/or do not have children then you will be given enough BAH to cover a one- or two-bedroom apartment. Once you have children or reach a higher military rank then you will be able to live in a duplex, townhome, or single-family home to accommodate your rank and growing family size.
Keep in mind that the location where you are living will determine how much BAH you can receive. Rent and utilities vary a great deal depending on where you are currently living. What can cover rent in Kansas may not be able to cover rent in California. Once your specific geographic location is considered the Office will then consider your military pay grade will be looked at. Different BAHs will result if you have children or if you have no children at this time.
Will allow of your housing costs be covered by BAH?
The answer to this question is unsatisfying but truthful: It depends. Probably not the answer that you were wanting me to give but it needs to be repeated that it depends on your specific situation and choices as to whether the BAH will cover all your housing costs. When you receive your BAH then you will ultimately need to determine how much you will need/want to spend/. The military does not think that BAH is designed to cover all of your housing needs when it comes to cost. 80% of off-base living expenses are what BAH is designed to cover. You would then need to figure out how to pay the remaining 20% of your income or that of your spouse. This has been the historical reality of BAH.
However, in today's age of military service, the BAH situation has improved. Now the expectation in the military’s eyes is that your BAH will pay for all of your housing costs. If you need to pay renter’s insurance that may be beyond the BAH since these costs are no longer built into the computation for BAH. At the end of the day, the BAH that you receive in 2023 is intended to support about 95% of your likely housing costs.
This leads to a logical endpoint of discussing whether you should still purchase renter’s insurance. Some apartments or other landlords will require that you purchase renter’s insurance to live in one of their units. Renter’s insurance can cover the loss of property and its value if there is a fire, pipe leak, theft, or other event out of your and the landlord’s control. For the cost of renter’s insurance, it would seem to be one of the better values in the entire insurance world.
Keep in mind that a landlord is under no obligation to cover your property if a fire were to occur or any other type of disaster that caused your items to be lost, damaged, or destroyed. Renter's insurance is a good value, typically. You can list the items that you own and would receive a quote based on the amount of property that you own and its value.
What is the reason why the BAH does not cover your housing expenses?
There are many factors in play when it comes to determining your specific BAH. First, the median housing prices for your area will determine the amount in large part. The more expensive an area that you live in the more you can expect to receive in BAH. As a general rule, you probably know of the areas in the country that have the most expensive real estate and are therefore the higher cost of living areas, as well. Keep this in mind as you attempt to find housing if you are not able to secure it on base. Even if you will be receiving BAH it may not be able to cover you 100% in more expensive areas of the country. Even in the more reasonable areas of the country as far as real estate costs you may still run into a situation where your tastes may be expensive enough to price you out of BAH covering all of your costs for a rental.
Pay grade and number of dependents are the other two factors that we would recommend you look to when it comes to BAH. Pay grade corresponds to your rank, essentially. The more senior a military member you are the more you would receive in BAH, all other things being equal. Next, the more children or dependents that you have the more BAH you would receive. That does not mean that you have no shot at receiving a competitive amount of BAH if you are a lower-ranking military member or a person who has many children.
You will still have some control over your costs in that you can usually have some options to select from as far as where you want to live. Keep a budget in mind and you will be well-positioned to have your BAH kept in line. Location matters when trying to select an economical place to live. The more options there are in a certain area the better chance that you will be able to locate yourself a good choice when it comes to an underbudget location to live. There are always going to be additional costs that come up for families who are looking for a place to live. Your BAH will not take into consideration any of the additional costs associated with the costs of home ownership, for example, but only considers median rents in your area. On top of that, purchasing a home while you are in the military is a risky proposition.
With that warning already out there, you can use your BAH to purchase a home. Nothing in the rules prohibits you from doing this. However, the costs associated with the mortgage are not going to be covered. Costs to close on the home, get it inspected and then the general upkeep on the home are not taken into consideration here. Many military members get ahead of themselves when it comes to finding a place to live and making a decision to buy a home rather than rent.
In any event, BAH is a subject that could be vitally important to your family. If you are heading into a divorce you should learn as much as you can about the process and what impact it could have on your family. Military divorces can be different in many regards from civilian divorces so it pays for you to have a strategy when it comes to your case. Working with one of the family law attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can make a world of difference for you and your family.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to find out more about the world of Texas family law as well as how your family's circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.