Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) Rates

Basic Allowance for Housing is based on three factors: pay grade, dependency status, and geographic duty location. BAH program is designed to assist active military servicers with the housing compensation on the local market. BAH allowance is available to all the Military personnel who have dependents (family members) or when barracks are full and do not have a place for that particular family’s housing. Each year in December, the Department of Defense releases the Basic Allowance for Housing Table, which shows the rates. 2020 BAH Rates have increased by around 2.8 percent from the previous year. These rates are based on the expenses regarding various housing types, the local costs for utilities, and rent prices. Fluctuations on these aspects may affect the BAH rates as well.

How Can Military Personnel Keep 2020 BAH Rates Constant?

Military personnel can save their BAH rates and keep it as it is. How? In 2009, congress signed Individual Rate Protection for military personnel. Even if the fluctuations happen in the local area where military personnel services, the BAH rate will stay the same if they use rate protection policy. There is an eligibility criterion for this policy as well. The military members should be in active duty during that period, or they will lose their right for individual rate protection. While some cannot find governmental quarters for housing, BAH is usually an excellent option to utilize.

What about the service members who work outside of the U.S.?

That military personnel can also take advantage of the program, which is called the Overseas Housing Allowance. Applicants for both of the programs need to know that BAH and OHA can receive the pay according to the place where they are assigned to work, not where they live. Besides, Basic House Allowance can be given to those families of the military personnel who are living away from their loved ones. For instance, in overseas tours, wars, and in these types of unfortunate events, the family of the army member also gets BAH to take care of themselves. If you are facing the same kind of issue, please contact the local finance office to learn more details. The case can be very complex; that is why talking to the professionals is the best choice.

2020 Bah Rates

In recent years, BAH rates have been considerably increasing. The rates for 2018 were around 95 percent; In 2019, the percentage went up to 97.8 percent, and in 2020, it has risen again. The percentages changed in January the first of 2020. The military personnel who are using the BAH program saw the recent changes on the paychecks on January fifteenth, 2020. It fluctuates sometimes, but according to the latest changes in congress, there would not be any considerable reduction in BAH Rates for the following years. The system works like this: if the BAH rate is 95 percent, then the government grants military personnel with 95 percent of the expenses regarding utilities, supplies, and housing. The remaining 5 percent needs to be paid by the military personnel themselves.

What is the BAH Program?

The Basic Allowance for Housing is a part of the Forever GI Bill program and grants the army active duty personnel with aid for housing. Only the service members who are not living in governmental houses can get this opportunity. The BAH pay is determined based on many factors, as we mentioned above. In cheaper areas of the country, the pay could be considerably less. As we discussed 2020 BAH Rates, you may have questions regarding the calculation process of these rates. For those who wonder how the government determines the amount and the rate, let’s get answers. The Bah Rates are calculated every year by surveying the cost of living in specific areas, geographic location, by analyzing the average prices there and issuing an X amount of money based on the cost of living in that particular location.

How to Check the 2020 BAH Rates?

There is an Army Bah Calculator (check here: ), which can help you to learn the Military BAH Rates. You need to put the specific information regarding the:

  • Pay grade
  • Year (which you want to learn)
  • Duty Station ZIP Code

After filling the boxes, you will get to another page where you need to provide your personal details. After that, you will be able to see how much money you will get from Military BAH.

Keep in mind that the government has changed the rule regarding double-dipping. So, while you calculate your budget, consider the new regulations regarding military BAH rates, and write accordingly. With recent regulation, you may get less than in previous years. That is why it is essential to be aware of this.

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Updates from Congress about Basic Housing Allowance Pay

The U.S. Senate passes laws from time to time to attack BAH rates and reduce their utilities. Unfortunately, the new rule changes are against military personnel because the government now asks for all the documents after they pay for the BAH. Currently, service members should hand over the copies of all the expenses that they did during one year span. It covers utility bills, rent payments, mortgage payments, and so on. The government wants to see how the military personnel handles the money, and if they spend less than actual BAH that they got, the Senate aims to reduce the rates or the amount. The rule changes also aim to see whether or not the service members overspend that money.

Additional Cuts that Proposed by Government Regarding BAH Benefits

Besides the recent rule changes, there is another issue that military personnel should consider while moving forward. Some of the service members live in a shared property, and the government intends to cut some money from the BAH benefit amount because of that. Today, the guidelines for the shared property is stating that all the families of the military personnel can access the full BAH pay even if they live in a shared space. Though soon, there would be cuts regarding that amount, and those families who share a house with peers from the army can no longer save that money.

According to the case, it may cost you around a hundred or even thousands of dollars per month. Some think it is not the right thing to do for the people who sacrifice their lives for the country and serve with all costs. There are speculations that most of the military benefits such as housing, education, and more will be eliminated in the near future as well. Hopefully, this will not happen, and military personnel will get the aid that they deserve. After all, they are just speculations, and no one knows how things are going to play out in the future.

Past BAH Rates Comparison

In 2019, the BAH rate was 95 percent, slightly less than the previous year, which stood at 96 percent. The good news is that, for now, there will not be a reduction in 2020 BAH rates. So, military personnel can take a deep breath and relax. Unless Congress decides to shock everyone again, we can hope that during 2020 there will not be any changes. There are some reasons behind that. As we all know, the President of the U.S. Donald Trump is from the Republicans party which rules the Senate. So, if we consider that the military is the core of this administration’s constituency, we can say that there will not be any reduction, at least for the remaining part of 2020. According to the results of the 2020 Presidential elections, we will see whether or not Republicans can keep this run or not.

Increase on 2020 BAH Rates

On January 1st, military personnel heard the great news about the increase of BAH Rates significantly. The 2.4 percent raise was good news for that military personnel, but there was bad news too. Afterward, congress indirectly stated that they are going to attack the 2020 BAH rates and payments while the argument was that military personnel are getting overpaid.

So, they reduced the coverage to 95 percent afterward. It is a regrettable event because typically congress is on the military’s side, especially in military-related matters. At the same time, they always try to show support for them and their dependents. It is a bad sign, and it could get worse, and the number of military personnel who are getting BAH aid may reduce because of the decrease in the number of soldiers from the wars that went in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. asks most of those soldiers to come back, so they lose the Military BAH pay as they return to the homeland and continue their services there.

BAH Rates by ZIP Codes

You can use the Army BAH calculator (provided above) to view the 2020 BAH Rates by Zip Code. The calculator is a great tool to assess the previous rates as well as making future projections. For instance, by writing down the ZIP Code, you can look at the BAH pay rates for 2015, 2016, 2017, etc.

What if the BAH Rate Drops?

Each year in the first week of January, you can find the BAH Rates for that particular term. You can check the official site to see if your rate kept the same or there any changes.

BAH Rate Charts

You can check the official website of military benefits to see the BAH rate charts. You can filter the results and compare them. For example, you can look at the BAH rate charts with or without the dependents.

Component Breakdown regarding the Rates

If you want to clearly see how the rates are calculated and why you get such an amount, you can always check the website of the Department of Defense. Three components are important while calculating the 2020 BAH Rates. They mainly cover rent, insurance, and utilities.

The most significant component for calculating the BAH rate is Rent. Rent is substantial because approximately 65 to 75 percent of the total Allowance is set according to that. The utilities are making up around 25 percent of the Basic Housing Allowance Rate. This year, insurance was removed from the list, and they did not include it in the calculation for 2020 BAH Rates. It was not so important either because the coverage was only making 1 to 3 percent of the total BAH Rate.

2020 Basic Allowance for Housing Rates

According to the recent news, around $21 billion will be allocated for the new term, and approximately one million service members will get paid from the BAH program. The cost-sharing amount, which is the remaining percentage which service member spends out of his/her pocket, is decided to be 5 percent for the past year. Grade and dependency status is vital for the rates. The range, for now, varies from 66 dollars to 149 dollars on a monthly basis. Even with the small deductions, overall, the Basic Allowance for Housing pay remains one of the great programs available for military personnel.

How is Housing Cost Data collected?

The data collection process takes place annually over 300 military housing areas. Those areas include Alaska and Hawaii too. Total housing cost is compromised by the average market utilities such as water/sewer, electricity, gas, and market rent cost. Military housing areas generally are designed for six families according to the number of bedrooms and so on. Then, the calculations start by analyzing each pay grade for the military personnel group. The estimate includes both with and without dependents situations, the Department of Defense created this benefit structure to provide the military personnel with a secure and high-quality standard of living while they serve their duties.

Types of Basic Allowance for Housing

Among military members, there are various campaigns regarding the BAH that they can take advantage of. In general, the Basic Allowance for housing pay that you get is determined by calculating the cost of living in the area where you serve.

BAH with and Without Dependents

Based on the military personnel’s dependency status at the permanent duty ZIP Code, members can get BAH assistance. If the service members have the BAH pay, they can additionally get it for their dependents. The rate for with and without dependents BAH varies though it is an excellent chance for military personnel to live with their family members. If it is not possible, there are other options that military personnel spouses or dependents can use.

Partial Basic Allowance for Housing

If the military personnel who are on his/her active duty are living in the governmental quarters, they should choose the partial BAH pay. They are not eligible to use complete BAH aid if they do not have any dependents. That is the main reason why so many military personnel marry as they start the active duty.

BAH Reserve Component

It is different from basic Allowance for housing because BAH RC/T is based on the non-locality principle. The personnel who are on active duty for a particular time frame can get the advantage of this program. The Transit, in this case, refers to the areas where it is not mentioned to grant a BAH aid. BAH RC/T is calculated according to the BAQ (Basic Allowance for Quarters). The national average for housing costs is the primary variable in this case too.


BAH Differential is only applicable to those service members who are assigned to single quarters, and the child support is the primary variable of this BAH program type. The eligibility of the service member gets approval if the monthly rate of the child support is less than the actual BAH aid that he/she got. You can get all the information about these programs from the Department of Defense and Military Benefits websites.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Basic Allowance for Housing

Below you can find the answers for the frequently asked questions regarding the BAH.

Who is eligible for BAH?

As we mentioned before, the eligibility criteria for BAH is defined by certain conditions (serving on active duty at one of the 50 States). If the military personnel works overseas, then they will be eligible for OHA.

Would you lose money if the 2020 BAH rates decreased?

The answer is no if you are using BAH rate protection; you can keep the same amount.

Can you lose that protection?

The BAH rate protection has three key points, which can make you ineligible for the current payment plan.

  • The first one is: if you are transferred to the place where the original BAH rate is much lower than your previous one.
  • The second one: if you are demoted. In this case, your current Bah rate will be decreased to some extent, and BAH rate protection will be dissolved.
  • The last one is: if you lose the dependency status.

Does BAH Rate protection prevent potential increases?

The answer is no. If there was a rule change regarding the increase of BAH rate, you would get your additional money as well as others who do not have BAH Rate protection.

What if you get promoted?

When the military personnel gets promoted, they will be able to get BAH aid at higher rates.

Will you need to pay from pocket money for daily expenses?

The answer is yes, the point of having the Basic Allowance for Housing is to give you additional help on paying for you and your family’s necessities regarding the housing, supplies, etc. So, you will have to pay from the pocket money for additional expenses.

BAH Rate vs. Mortgage

The 2020 BAH Rates might not come close to your mortgage payment because it is designed with considering the average cost in that specific area. If you get the lucrative house, then you need to pay for that from pocket money. So, do not wait for BAH to pay for the entire mortgage amount because it will not happen.

What is the source of BAH data?

It comes from multiple sources, according to the Department of Defense website. The governments state that there are strict checks and balances regarding the data collection process to make it fair for everyone.

What is included in the BAH Rate Calculation Process?

The three factors determine on which rate you will get the aid

  • Average Rate for the area where you service
  • Average Utility cost for that area
  • Average Rent price for that area

Family Size?

The number of dependents that you have does not matter and the government does not include it in the calculation process. You will get the aid at the same rate, whether you have only your spouse or you have a spouse plus ten children.

The quality of Military Base vs. the place you rent with BAH pay

The conditions can be a lot better or a lot worse in this case. The military base consists of standard houses though if you pay the additional money, you can get an even better home or vice versa. So, BAH does not guarantee that your new resident will be perfect or better/worse than military base houses.

The 2020 BAH Rates are created according to the average living expenses. So, it does not matter whether you will save money or overspend it; the rate will stay constant.

If you don’t have legal or physical custody of your dependents, then they don’t count as dependents, so you will not receive BAH at the with dependents rate.

More BAH pay?

If you think that this BAH payment is less and you need to get more, then you need to cut some expenses because they will not raise it solely on this purpose.

  • How are local areas defined for BAH?
  • The Duty stations are defined according to the Zip Codes.
  • If you are a single dad/mom, what will happen?

The condition in which you can get BAH from the government if you are divorced with children is applicable only if:

  • You have the legal custody of the children
  • You pay Child support
  • Live in the single type of quarters

Whom do you need to contact?

It depends on where you are serving. For example, for U.S. Army, you can contact:

  • HQDA – (703) 692-7954
  • Army Reserve – (877) 462-7782
  • Cadet Command – (757) 788-3835
  • Hawaii – (808) 438-2070
  • USAREC – 502-626-0263 DSN: 536
  • AMC – (256) 450-6577
  • TRADOC – (757) 788-5183

For U.S. Navy you need to contact:

Basic Allowance for housing representative for U.S. Navy at (703) 604-5477

To get more information about Air Force BAH rates and overall the process for Air force personnel, you need to contact the MAJCOM. The local finance office can also help you regarding the Air Force BAH Rates.

Bottom Line

The military personnel was doing a phenomenal job while putting their life at risk for their country. That is why they all should be getting the full payments they deserve by the law. The 2020 BAH rates were not disappointing, and recent speculations about BAH rate deduction should not worry us too much.