Did you get a pay change in January of 2023? Then you may have qualified for the basic needs allowance (BNA). January 2023 is when the basic needs allowance was implemented for service members with dependents who completed initial training and whose gross household income falls below 130% of federal poverty guidelines.
It is no shock that with rising inflation and rising home and rental prices across the nation, it is not surprising that the military is looking for ways to provide basics to their service members. Many of these families are military service members. The Basic Needs Allowance is a supplemental monthly payment for service members with at least one dependent who is registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, or DEERS. In order to qualify, the service members’ gross household income in the previous year and the current year’s annualized gross income falls below 130% of federal poverty guidelines. The poverty level is not one specific number but is calculated by the number of people in the family. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 130 percent of the poverty line for a family of three is $2495 a month, or about $29,940 a year. More people in the family means that the annual income could be higher overall, but they still meet the poverty level guideline.
Each military service branch reviews each service member to determine if there is eligibility. Each service branch also has applications for Basic Needs Allowance. If you or someone you know is looking to apply for Basic Needs Allowance, ask your administrative shop or unit leaders for the application process.
The amount of allowance is to cover the difference between wages to the poverty guideline. For example, if a service member’s income is $300 below 130% of the federal poverty guideline, they would receive $300. This income is considered taxable. Because it is taxable income, it may affect eligibility for other programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Before applying for BNA, service members are encouraged to talk to base groups like New Parent Support, who may be able to help determine its effects.
This allowance will be approved annually, so to continue to receive it year after year, service members must reapply. If the family size changes, a PCS occurs, or a raise occurs, the eligibility will be re-evaluated.
It is noted on the DFAS page that BNA is optional. Service members can not apply or also decline the allowance.
Specific service contact information:
- Navy – https://www.mynavyhr.navy.mil/References/Pay-Benefits/NC/
- Marine Corps – https://www.manpower.usmc.mil/webcenter/portal/MPO/pages_compensation
- Air Force – Contact the Total Force Service Center, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Coast Guard: email: Compensation@USCG.mil
- Army: no current contact information available