How does dual military BAH work? What kind of housing allowance would two active-duty military members be entitled to if they get married?
Every servicemember is given a Basic Allowance for Housing or BAH. The BAH rate will depend on various factors, such as the number of dependents, pay grade, location, or living arrangements.
Dual military (or when a military member marries another military member) are categorized differently and follow a different BAH rate.
This post explains the U.S. military’s official marriage regulations on housing allowance, so you’ll get an idea of the amount you’re entitled to receive.
Table of Contents
Basics of BAH
If you’re a member serving permanent active duty within the country, but you are not staying in any government-funded housing, you are eligible for the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).
Those assigned overseas without government-furnished accommodation are eligible for OHA (Overseas Housing Allowance).
- These allowances are computer based on your assigned location, pay grade and the status or number of dependents.
The DoD website has an official BAH pay calculator you can check out.
- The BAH rates vary from member to member.
The rates are also adjusted annually on January 1st of each year. They fluctuate because the Defense Department uses the local rental housing cost averages as the main factor in computing individual BAH rates.
So if the housing market where your duty station is located faces a significant increase, expect an increase in your BAH by next January 1st.
- The best thing about BAH is that it comes with rate protection, so your BAH rate won’t lead to a decrease even if house rental prices go down.
Your BAH rate could only face a reduction if you are demoted, relocated to another area with lower housing market values, or a change in your dependency status occurs.
Requirements for Dual Military BAH
When military servicemen marry, they become what is known as “mil to mil couples” or dual military couples.
Technically, BAH for dual military was created to give married service members the freedom to choose their housing off-base without using their savings for rent.
BAH wasn’t intended to cover 100% of a service member’s off-base housing cost. But suppose the service member decides to rent a cheaper place and ends up with extra BAH funds. In that case, the funds can be used for the couple’s utilities, groceries, shopping, child support, and other necessities.
Some just save the money for their emergency fund or retirement.
Note that the military doesn’t automatically update a service member’s records and benefits. You need to apply to get BAH after marriage.
As soon as you have a copy of your marriage certificate, visit your branch’s finance office and update your records. This is particularly important if your union includes a dependent child/children.
Usually, BAH takes effect on your next month’s paycheck. It is often backdated to the date of your marriage.
If you have a special case, it is best to visit finance for further BAH instruction questions.
BAH Rates and Benefits for Dual-military Couples
A military couple is entitled to each of their own BAH in the following circumstances:
- If the couple has no kids, their “without-dependent BAH rates” remain.
- If the couple gets a dependent child/children, only one of them is entitled to the “with-dependent BAH rate,” which is considerably higher.
However, the other military members continue to receive their single BAH payment. It makes sense that the one with the higher rank (and higher pay grade) applies for the higher BAH rate.
- If the married military couple is not stationed together, the with-dependent BAH rate automatically goes to the military spouse who takes care of the dependents under his/her roof.
- If a newly-married service member had an authorized BAH with a dependent parent or dependent child/children (from another marriage), he/she can still continue to benefit from the “with-dependent BAH rate.”
You won’t be able to find an accurate dual military BAH calculator because every couple’s case is unique.
BAH with dependent rules also change for divorced serviced members. The BAH rate eligibility would now include considerations such as:
- Whether or not the military member has physical or legal custody of the child/children
- Whether or not the servicemember pays child support
- Whether the servicemember lives in single-type government quarters or not
Check the DoD army regulation Volume 7A, Chapter 26 for a deeper dive into the legalities and revisions with all types of BAH.
Payment Structure for Dual Military BAH
Military housing allowance for married couples may seem complicated, but you really just need to understand it once, get updated with the current rate, and ensure you’re getting the benefits you deserve.
Factors That Affect Dual Military BAH
The BAH rules for dual military vary because service members have different:
- Geographic location where they are assigned (the local rental averages determine the BAH rate and are not based on your rental home agreement)
- Ranking and corresponding pay grade
- Dependency status (service members with dependents generally have larger BAH allowance compared to those without). Note that the number of dependents does not multiply or influence the BAH rate.
Other factors that are beyond the military member’s control include
- Defense budget
- Average rent in the area assigned
In the past, renter’s insurance was included in BAH calculations. The current formula does not consider this anymore, but BAH is meant to cover about 95% of a military member’s housing costs.
Calculation of Dual Military BAH
The Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO) manages all BAH payments and publishes current rates on behalf of the Department of Defense.
To determine BAH rates:
- DTMO collects data on the housing costs per zip code of its military housing areas and details such as rent and utilities.
- The data will be categorized into types of housing, such as 1BR apartments, 2BR apartments, 2BR townhouse, 3BR duplex, 4BR detached family house, and so on.
- Total housing cost will be computed by using the median rental market rate + average cost of utilities + number of rooms between types of houses.
- The resulting rate would then be adjusted for every pay grade and adjusted further according to dependence status.
DTMO annually reviews BAH rates and releases the current rates by mid-December.
The best way to estimate your BaH rate is to enter the zip code you’re assigned in, your pay grade, and the year via the DTMO BAH Rate Lookup. You can even download a copy of your result.
While payments are calculated monthly for eligible service members, they are paid split between two monthly paychecks (usually during the 1st and 15th of the month).
BAH payments are tax-free.
Why do military guys get married so fast? Now you know that it is most likely for practical reasons. Aside from being paid more for having a partner as a dependent, getting married also gets enlisted juniors out of the barracks a lot quicker.
Getting married also changes the housing allowance amount when both spouses in the military are actively serving. If you’re on this boat, it’s important you and your partner get well-versed on ‘how does dual military BAH work?’ to ensure you receive added benefits you’re now both entitled to.
Logan Miller, the founder of Safecallnow, is responsible for providing expert guidance on police equipment. He can give officers with credible knowledge on how to employ enhanced safety measures and police equipment to ensure the highest level of safety and efficiency. He can provide specialist assistance regarding the selection of apparel, duty gear, first aid supplies, tools, and training equipment for homeland security and law enforcement.