What If I Don’t Get Paid?

Pretty regularly, I get questions from readers who didn’t get paid on payday, or who got paid a smaller amount than they were expecting..  There are three basic steps to figuring out what happened:

Step One:  Look At Your Leave and Earnings Statement

Go to MyPay and pull up your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) or Net Pay Advice statement.  The LES is the long, detailed form that active duty gets at the end-of-month pay (Reserves always get LES) and the Net Pay Advice is the short statement that active duty folks get with their mid-month pay.  You need to verify two pieces of information:  the amount you should be paid, and the banking institution to which the payment was forwarded.  On the LES, the amount you should receive for pay is the bottom figure on the right hand column, next to the words =EOM PAY.  On the Net Pay Advice, the amount you should receive for pay is located on the right hand side.  Once you’ve verified the amount (and that there is an amount), check the bank account information listed.  Make sure this is the right account information.

Step Two:  Check With Your Bank

If your LES or Net Pay Advice  shows an amount due, and has the right bank account information, the next step is to contact your bank.  It is possible that some error has happened within the bank’s system.  Explain that you have a direct deposit that was sent to them, and you’ve verified the bank account information, and see what steps they can take to track the transaction.

If you are looking at a mid-month Net Pay Advice, check your last LES to verify the bank deposit information that is listed there.

Step Three:  Go To Finance

Third, if your LES is correct, but your bank can not trace the deposit, you need to contact your finance department to find out what has happened.  Finance is also the right department to contact if you feel that your LES or Net Pay Advice is incorrect and you need to have it corrected.

Hopefully, this won’t happen often, but sometimes pay does get messed up.  This is one of the many reasons that you should always read your monthly LES and make sure everything is right.  Addressing the problem in a sensible fashion increases the chances that you’ll get it worked out quickly.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Amber

    Not sure what is meant by “addressing the problem in a sensible fashion.” It would helpful to have a guide that explains specifically who we should talk to and/or where we should go for help when problems with pay arise.

    • KateKashman

      Oh, dear, that was what I was trying to do. What sort of information would be more helpful? Obviously, there are specifics that are unique to each branch, unit, and exact situation, but I was trying to put together a clear guide here. Please tell me what more I can include.

      • sha

        Well, If you could list some options about what to do when you don’t get paid and how to cover bills that are due or set to automatically come out and you are not going to get paid for at least a month, ways to cope with that or resources that can actually help, because no ones cares that your pay got messed up military or not they want their payments now.

  • dee

    my problem wkth the pay is that i lost my hands at the hands of your doctors and was awarded medical, dental, eye wear, etc and not only have you taken all of that from me you have also not given me a raise in three years and the cost of everything keeps going up..there is something wrong in this picture..dee Lake City, Florida

  • Luther

    Here’s one for you. They changed my service number, sent me to Viet Nam for 14 months, and 45 years later I’m still trying to get my pay.

  • Mandi

    Actually, taking advance pay makes financial sense if you use it wisely… For example, if you plan to live off base, the military will give you advance pay for your first month’s rent and your deposit. Even if you have the money sitting in a bank account right now doing nothing, it’s still making interest on it. Why would you voluntarily give that up?

    It can cause problems with your pay, but if you’re proactive and check your LES and Net Pay Advice several days before payday, you can usually fix most issues before they become problems.

  • Phyllis Teitsort

    What is advanced pay?

  • Shirley Jean

    My granddaughter and her husband are in us army. For the last 3 months their pay check were totally messed up. One pay period they received a whopping 3.45 and that is all. When it should have been around 2,000. They have been to finance twice to try to get this staightened out. And finally 2 weeks ago they got a military attorney to go to finance and they swore they had everything straight now. Guess what they pulled up their pay check on line being anxious to see that all back pay was paid and also that their pay amount for the 1st was correct. And guess what? They only received a little over 600. with no back pay or anything and its even in a bigger mess. They show him to be in CZ which is combat zone but he is in fact in ft. hood, tx. This is a young couple who has 1 child and another on the way and it looks like she will have to move home with her mom and change drs. and everything due to this mess. Help!!! Any suggestions will be helpful from anyone. Thanks