August 13, 2013
By Charles Zuckerman
The Pentagon recently announced it is considering changes that would require service members to pay more out of pocket expenses for housing, but a new survey from Military Times found that is already the case for the large majority of troops. Researchers found that 70% pay at least some amount of their off-base housing costs, with very few respondents saying they have enough benefits to cover all their expenses.
The findings are based on a non-scientific survey of more than 4,230 service members. Pollsters found that 27% pay "a lot" of their expenses out of pocket while 43% said they had to cover "a little" on their own. The results also revealed that just 9% said they have more than they need to pay rent thanks to the basic allowance for housing.
This disparity between what's offered through the BAH and what service members actually report is due largely to the fact that allowances are based on the assumption they will cover 100% of the average cost of off-base living. However, the average isn't always what service members have to pay, so certain beneficiaries may not get all they need to, Military Times reports.
BAH may be one of the most significant casualties from sequestration, the across-the-board budget cuts that are expected to continue into 2014. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently floated the idea of potentially cutting BAH, according to Stars and Stripes. However, officials say doing so would be tricky.
"There can be reductions in rates; we can look at the rates of growth and try to find ways of slowing the rates of growth; we can look at inequalities in the system based on where you live," Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the news source.