Military Pay Is Calculated Monthly

There is an important part of military pay and allowances that many people miss:  (nearly) everything is calculated on a monthly basis, and net pay amounts are absolutely calculated on a monthly basis.  Yes, you can opt to get a mid-month pay, but it is technically an advance of half your estimated monthly pay.

Say what?

Let me see if I can explain.

Each month, a servicemember receives pay and allowances.  Nearly all of them are calculated on a monthly basis, and even the ones that aren’t calculated monthly are still paid in a monthly fashion.  Base pay, BAH, BAS, and most special pays and allowances are calculated monthly.  Likewise, deductions and allotments are calculated on a monthly basis:  taxes, insurance, payments, etc.  About a week before the end of the month, the folks over at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) calculate the entire month’s activity and figure out your net pay for the month.  They include things like changes that have occurred during the month to (hopefully) end up with an accurate amount of pay and allowances for the month.  DFAS then issues a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) to explain how they’ve done their math.

But I Get Paid Twice A Month!

There is a good chance that you do.  Most military servicemembers have chosen to receive mid-month pay.  That mid-month pay is an advance of half what DFAS estimates your total monthly pay will be.  If you look on your LES, you’ll see mid-month pay in the middle column, as a deduction.  The LES shows that your pay is calculated on a monthly basis, and that the mid-month pay is deducted from the total to result in your end-of-month pay.


Then Why Aren’t The Two Parts The Same?

The mid-month pay advance is calculated around the 7th of the month.  As we all know, lots of stuff can happen between the beginning of the month.  You could get promoted, you could move in or out of housing, you could PCS, you could take out a loan, you could start dental coverage on your family, you could move in or out of a combat zone, hazardous duty location, or other special allowance area.  When the DFAS folks calculate your mid-month pay, they are using the information that they have at that time.  If your pay and allowance status changed during the month, then the pay amount will change between the mid-month calculation and the end-of-month calculation.  Even if your status changed early in the month, that information may not have made it from your unit to DFAS before the calculation cut-off date.

Many of the questions that I receive can be answered by understanding that pay is calculated monthly.  This is the sort of information that should be taught during basic military training.  Either it isn’t being taught, or everyone is too tired to absorb it.  Let me know if you have questions!

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.
  • guest

    What’s teh deal with the SCU 11% CD they are advertising on here? Real or scam?

  • Rob

    I’d only heard of the Army doing this. I have never heard of it as an option in the Navy or Marines. I have no idea how to implement it, or what Order to refer to when the sailor at PSD has no idea what I’m talking about. I’m interested, if anyone can give me more info

  • Check

    Read this. Don’t think what is mention is correct. Mid-Month is actually covering the 1st – 15th. End-Of-Month is covering the 15th through the end of the month…..

  • Darryl Hines

    So I married on May 6,2014 and turn in everything to my command on the 15th when I got back from leave. But just found out today jun 4th I was listed in the system as a single sailor so they went back in did what ever they had do so I’m listed married. So should I expect my BAH to be on my check Jun 13. If not how long will it take till I actually see it.

    • Kate

      Darryl, it is impossible to say for sure. The changes might process through the system in time for the 13 June payday, but it might not be until the 30th payday. Unfortunately, the military personnel and pay systems are complex and not well connected with each other. They require a lot of help from the humans involved and sometimes things take a little longer than we might expect.

      Congratulations on your marriage!

  • Robert

    So I understand that on the LES mid-month payments are in the deduction column because the full amount is being displayed but only half is paid out on the 1st and 15th of each month. For clarification when keeping track of my own spending’s with a handy budget excel sheet I got from the financial advisor from the Airman Family Readiness Center. I don’t need to actually input the mid-month payment in the deduction column correct? The excel sheet is in a monthly format.

    • Kate

      Depending on how it is set up, probably not. Most spending software or spreadsheets don’t break it out that way.

      Good for you to be tracking your spending. That is such a huge step!

  • sandra

    Hello! I understand that the paystub is calculated monthy, but do military receive two pay checks? and one pay stub? When is the mid month pay paid?

    • Kate

      Sandra, most military members are paid twice a month, with the mid-month pay date being the 15th, or the business day prior if the 15th falls on a weekend or a holiday. Some military members opt to be paid just once a month.

  • Will

    So I was promoted to E5 as of May 1 (that pay check was still for E4, of course) on May 15 my pay check was significantly more, which I assumed was my promotion pay. Now it’s June 1, and my pay is about $100 less and it doesn’t seem correct according to pay charts. Any reason why that would be? Thanks.

    • Kate

      Will, did you look at your Leave and Earnings Statement? I suspect you will find the correct answer to your question in the information contained there.

      Congratulations on your promotion!

  • Ash

    So say my husband gets an advance due to moving or something, does the allotments still come out and go to where they need to, or do we have to worry about them?

  • Katrina

    Reffering to Roberts post, where does the other half go from the Mid-Month pay, My husband has been in for 6 years now and have never had this on any LES so im just a little confused as to exactly what is going on with his paycheck. To me it looks like he gets paid on the 1st and then the 15th they take it out of that check and it just repeats itself. Im just trying to understand.

  • Sandra

    Is it my understanding, they get paid once a month; If you elected to receive two checks per month; both checks will show a monthly pay but then 1/2 of that pay will be in the deductions because you elected to receive two instead of one? All in all, if you add both the advanced pays each month, you will come up with the the total wages you are due to receive monthly. Is this right?

  • Whitney

    Hi there, is this information still accurate? If they miscalculate at the beginning of the month, is there a chance they would over pay at any point? We have a miscellaneous debt being taken out of my husband’s checks totaling over $1000, and we can’t figure out why! Thanks for your help.

    • Kate

      Yes, this is accurate. If your husband has a miscellaneous debt, he needs to check with his finance people to find out what it is, and get it corrected, if necessary.

      While most month’s balance in the end-of-month pay, there are sometimes adjustments that carry over into later months. You’ll have to track back through his Leave and Earnings Statements to figure out what is happening.

      Good luck to you!