With so much of our US military operating under special conditions due to the pandemic, many troops who might otherwise qualify for special duty pay might not meet monthly requirements. However, the DOD has released guidance to help commands and service members navigate options related to pay during the pandemic.
3 Special Pandemic Pay & Incentives You Need to Know
The military is being tasked with different duties and roles, as well as having normal operations and troop movements disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In response to these unprecedented times, the US Department of Defense has released several guidance letters to commanders across the services to support troops.
Special Duty Pay You Typically Receive
Many military specialities receive monthly special duty pay for performing aspects of their jobs. For example, pilots, flight crews and aviation maintenance crews all receive additional pay for these duties. However, this pay may be tied to achieving minimum monthly hours performing in this role, such as flight hours.
With many troops tasked elsewhere or no longer doing their typical jobs, those monthly hours are not being logged. This could remove that special duty pay from the next pay check.
The DOD has announced that troops who typically receive such pay incentives but cannot perform those duties as a direct result of COVID-19 shutdowns, may have recourse.
The Service Secretary for each branch of the military now has the option to waive those requirements for special duty pay.
This would mean that you could continue to receive that special duty pay even if you are unable to perform that specific job due to the pandemic.
In order to see if you qualify, speak to your unit chain of command.
Restriction of Movement Hardship Duty Pay
Some troops may be ordered to self-quarantine in a location other than their home due to possible exposure to COVID-19. In some cases, there may be additional hardship duty pay available to help defray costs associated with the quarantine.
In order to qualify, troops must be lodging somewhere other than their own home, government quarters or a hotel paid for at government expense. In other words, the hotel is being paid for out of pocket by an individual and is not going to be submitted for reimbursement later.
For troops who meet this criteria, there is an allowance of up to $100 per day and $1500 per month for costs associated with self-quarantine in a hotel.
To find out if you qualify, please speak to your chain of command.
Carry-Over Leave Max Cap Extended
With leave still allowed, but restricted to the service member’s local area only, many troops may not be taking leave in the near future. In addition, many military personnel are also working from home if possible and may require less leave time than previously. Since so much of the country are shut down, even in areas around military bases, taking leave may not be high on anyone’s to-do list.
Now, troops do not have to worry about exceeding the previous 60-day leave cap. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced recently that troops who are “performing acting service” may rollover up to 120 days of leave through September 30, 2023.
This temporary policy change would prevent troops from losing unused leave time, as would previously happen with the 60-day cap. The change recognizes the changes in troop movements and responsibilities as a result of the pandemic, as well as the necessity of time off for force readiness and overall troop health.
As the current global health crisis evolves, and hopefully resolves, in the coming months, monitor updated DOD policies and other force changes.
Financial Counselors Available Virtually
If you are struggling with your finances or have been impacted financially by the pandemic, personal financial counselors are available to support you virtually.
Counseling services are offered without cost to service members and their families. All counselors are certified in financial counseling and education.
Contact your local Family Center for more information.