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New rule lets dual-enlisted couples keep BAH

Apr. 26, 2013 - 05:43PM   |  
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Navy officials have announced new housing allowance rules that will mean more money for dual-enlisted couples — about 200 sailors now, but possibly thousands more as they take on sea duty.

The move, retroactive to Jan. 1, allows both spouses to claim a housing allowance so long as one is on sea duty and is E-5 or below. Before the new rule, the allowance for both sailors was authorized only if both were on sea duty and were E-5s or below, and neither had any other dependents.

The Navy requested the change from lawmakers in 2010 and has been working with Congress to push it through ever since, said David Haldeman, head of the military pay and compensation branch for the chief of naval personnel.

The new rules “close the loophole created by the dual-military exception that did not account for some dual-military couples,” Haldeman said.

The change impacts only those assigned to shipboard sea duty — not those with shore-based sea commands, such as squadrons or Seabee battalions.

Haldeman recommends that sailors in these situations check with their personnel office or personnel support detachment to make sure their records have the appropriate documents to get the allowance.

“Sailors will need to certify date of marriage, date of occupancy of nongovernment housing and date of relinquishment of previously assigned government quarters,” he said.

Though it’s expected only 200 sailors will cash in from the change at the moment, more could be eligible the next time they transfer. Data from the Defense Manpower Data Center shows 10,679 E-6 or below sailors are married to other military members and could benefit from the rule changes at some point. The change is expected to cost the Navy $19.6 million in extra BAH over the next few years, officials say.

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