Pay information available at your fingertips

  • Published
  • By Army Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem
  • American Forces Information Service
Anything you ever wanted to know about your military pay but didn't know who to ask is now available with a couple of mouse clicks. The Office of the Secretary of Defense has a military compensation Web site.

The site explains the differences between pay and allowances and describes the intended purpose for the various allowances. For instance, the basic allowance for subsistence is designed to offset the costs of a member's meals, but is "not intended to offset the costs of meals for family members."

A separate basic allowance for housing primer available on the site explains the ins and outs of BAH, including how it is computed and why rates can differ so much from one location to another.

A link to the "Regular Military Compensation Calculator" can give servicemembers a glimpse of how their pay and tax-free allowances stack up against civilian pay.

For instance, an E-6 with eight years of service living in the D.C. area with a spouse and two kids would have to earn more than $51,000 to take home the same amount after state and federal taxes are deducted.

Active-duty members approaching their 15th year of service might find the retirement choice calculator particularly helpful. Members who entered active service after July 31, 1986, have to choose at 15 years whether they will opt for the "high-three" or "redux" retirement plans.

High-three basically pays you 50 percent of the average of your three highest paying years of service. Redux pays you a $30,000 bonus at 15 years, then 40 percent of your base pay per month at retirement. Both have positive and negative points, and servicemembers need to choose based on their personal situation.

A calculator on this site allows you to input personal data and then gives you charts to show how much each option would provide you over a 40-year period.

Other sections on this site fully explain survivor benefits and the Thrift Savings Plan.