How to Get Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) in the Army

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Understanding how to get Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) in the army can significantly impact your financial well-being. BAH is a non-taxable allowance provided to service members to help cover housing costs, whether you’re living on or off base. Knowing the eligibility criteria and the application process is crucial for making the most of this benefit.

You’re probably wondering how to navigate the complexities of obtaining BAH. Whether you’re new to the military or looking to update your housing allowance, this guide will break down the steps you need to take. From understanding different BAH rates to submitting the right documentation, you’ll find everything you need to secure this essential benefit.

Understanding BAH in the Army

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is crucial for service members. You need to know what it is and if you’re eligible to benefit fully.

What Is BAH?

BAH stands for Basic Allowance for Housing. It’s a non-taxable allowance the military provides to help cover housing costs. Whether you live on-base or off, BAH ensures you have the funds needed for housing. The amount varies based on your rank, location, and whether you have dependents.

Eligibility Criteria for BAH

To receive BAH, you must meet specific criteria. First, your duty status affects eligibility. Active duty members typically qualify, while reservists only do if activated for over 30 days. Second, location matters. BAH rates vary by geographic area, reflecting the local cost of living. Also, rank influences the allowance amount. Higher-ranked members receive more due to expected lifestyle differences. Finally, dependent status impacts BAH. Those with dependents receive a higher rate to account for increased housing needs.

Use this knowledge to determine if you’re eligible and how much BAH you might receive. Understanding these criteria is essential for maximizing your benefits.

Factors Influencing BAH Rates

Understanding BAH rates’ influencing factors helps you maximize housing benefits. Let’s break down the critical elements.

Geographic Location

BAH rates depend heavily on the location. Different areas have varying housing costs, impacting the allowance provided. For example, urban areas like New York City generally have higher BAH rates compared to rural locations. The military uses ZIP codes to determine these regional differences, ensuring that allowances reflect local housing markets.

Rank and Family Status

Your rank and whether you have dependents also play significant roles in determining BAH rates. Higher ranks typically receive more significant allowances due to potentially increased housing needs. Also, service members with dependents, such as a spouse or children, get higher BAH rates than single service members to cover larger living spaces.

Understanding these factors ensures you fully use your housing allowance benefits.

Steps to Apply for BAH

To apply for Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) in the army, take specific steps to ensure approval. The process requires the right documentation and an understanding of the application process.

Necessary Documentation

Gather the required documentation. You’ll need:

  • Proof of Dependents: Birth certificates or marriage certificates.
  • Proof of Residence: Lease agreement or mortgage statement.
  • Duty Orders: Assignment orders confirming your duty station.

Having these documents handy expedites your application.

Application Process

Start the application process by contacting your unit’s personnel office. Follow these steps:

  1. Submit Documentation: File all necessary documents with the personnel office to verify your eligibility.
  2. Complete Forms: Fill out the required BAH forms, such as DA Form 5960.
  3. Await Confirmation: Wait for your request to be processed, which might take a few weeks.
  4. Receive BAH: Once approved, BAH will be added to your regular paycheck.

Keep copies of all submissions to ensure you have a record of your application.

Common Challenges in Receiving BAH

Receiving Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) in the army can be tricky due to various obstacles. To navigate these challenges, you must understand the common issues that arise during the process.

Delays and Errors

Delays in receiving BAH often frustrate service members. Paperwork processing times vary, sometimes due to personnel shortages or administrative errors. Common errors include incorrect rank entries, outdated dependent information, and incomplete forms. Ensure all documents, like your DA Form 5960, duty orders, and proof of residence, are accurate. A single mistake can delay your BAH for weeks.

Solutions and Tips

Addressing these challenges effectively requires attention to detail. Double-check all forms for accuracy before submission. Keep copies of everything you submit. If issues arise, contact your unit’s personnel office immediately. They can provide updates and solutions. Also, familiarize yourself with your installation’s administrative procedures to anticipate and avoid common pitfalls. Practice patience and persistence in resolving any errors.


Grasping the intricacies of BAH in the army is essential for maximizing your housing benefits. By understanding eligibility criteria and factors influencing rates, you can better navigate the application process and avoid common pitfalls. Make sure you have all necessary documentation and stay proactive in addressing any issues. With careful attention to detail and timely communication with your unit’s personnel office, you’ll ensure you receive the full benefits you deserve. This knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions and secure stable housing for yourself and your dependents.


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