By Dr. G. Adam Jakubek*
I am in the process of a PCS from NH Jacksonville to Kings Bay, and noticed that my Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) would drop significantly based on the change in duty station zip codes. The BAH rates vary depending on your duty station zip code, not your address, so you could see a dip in a few hundred dollars if your duty station changes but elect to keep your home in your prior, higher BAH rate zip code.
I’ve had colleagues PCS to close proximity duty stations and elect to not move their family and miss out on keeping their BAH at their old duty station. Some examples I’ve seen where people see a drop in BAH are PCS moves from San Diego to Camp Pendleton, or the Bethesda/National Capital Area to places like Annapolis or Baltimore where rates drop by $200-300/month.
The current order writing system authorizes funding for a household goods shipment by default if your new duty station is farther than 30 miles away from your prior duty station, but you might prefer to make the commute if it means staying in your home, keeping your kids in the same schools, etc.
My current orders have the following statement attached:
‐ MEMBERS WHO RECEIVE PCS ORDERS WHEN THEIR OLD AND NEW PERMANENT DUTY STATIONS ARE WITHIN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO EACH OTHER (BASED ON A REASONABLE COMMUTE DETERMINED BY THE GAINING CO) MAY BE ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE A CLOSE PROXIMITY WAIVER AND RECEIVE BAH BASED ON THEIR OLD PDS LOCATION. SEE NAVADMIN 101/10 FOR WAIVER ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS AND PROCEDURES. GO TO: HTTP://WWW.PUBLIC.NAVY.MIL/BUPERS‐NPC/ REFERENCE/MESSAGES/PAGES/DEFAULT.ASPX.
If you follow the instructions in the NAVADMIN, it is a relatively simple process, but the key is completing the request through your gaining command BEFORE you execute your orders. Your gaining command needs to endorse your request stating that your commute is ‘reasonable’ and you forfeit your household goods shipment, making it a no‐cost PCS move for the government.
Once you receive the signed endorsement letter from your gaining command, you forward that letter directly to your detailer. You’ll get an order modification that drops your household goods shipment funding and states that you’re authorized BAH at your prior duty station rate. Again, make sure you follow up with your detailer prior to checking out of your old command if you haven’t seen your order modification come through in NSIPS. Once you check into your new command PSD or Human Resources department with your modified orders, you’ll be locked into that BAH rate and cannot retroactively request funding for a household goods shipment if you decide to move later on in your tour.
Here are some useful templates to help you with this process:
*The views expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense or the United States Government.
Here is my summary of an article from the Military Officers Association of America about 2017 allowances:
- Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) will climb an average of 2.4 percent Jan. 1, or about $41 a month.
- Actual increases for individual BAH recipients will vary by Military Housing Area, pay grade, and dependency status. You can look up your BAH at this link.
- For a third straight year, BAH adjustments will not quite keep pace with the average rise in rent and utility costs, as the Department of Defense sticks to a five-year plan to trim the cost of stateside housing allowances gradually. The dampening of rates will continue until 2019, when recipients will be paying 5 percent of their off-base rental expenses out of pocket.
- Rates will fall in 82 housing areas, or 27 percent of the total. A rate protection provision, however, won’t allow BAH payments to fall for members already assigned to an area unless their pay grade is lowered or their dependency status changed.
- Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) rates will not change Jan. 1 because food prices were flat the past year. Monthly food allowances for officers will remain at $253.63 per month.