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BAH rule change helps geo-bachelors

Feb. 6, 2008 - 07:44PM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 6, 2008 - 07:44PM  |  
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Navy officials have announced changes to basic housing allowance rules that will put extra money in the pockets of some geographic bachelors — including some back pay.

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Navy officials have announced changes to basic housing allowance rules that will put extra money in the pockets of some geographic bachelors — including some back pay.

The new rules, detailed in a http://www.npc.navy.mil/NR/rdonlyres/5DDDD35C-7101-4690-84A4-3599C5F1E1BD/0/NAV08035.txt">naval administrative message released Wednesday, mean hundreds of sailors could see higher allowances amounting to hundreds of dollars each month.

Under Navy rules, BAH is paid to a sailor based on his command's address and not the location of his home.

The exception is for sailors who leave their families behind in high BAH areas — and transfer to a command with a Navy-designated housing shortage. For example, if a chief's family lives in the Washington, D.C., area but he's assigned to a ship in Norfolk, Va., he will draw the higher BAH that D.C. offers, even though he is serving in Norfolk.

But last year, Norfolk fell off the list of "critical housing areas," so that chief had to either move his family to Norfolk in 60 days or pay for his family's D.C. home on the lower Norfolk BAH. Based on BAH rates, that chief stood to lose $600 per month, because he was drawing Norfolk and not D.C. BAH, yet he still had to pay for the D.C. house.

Under the new rule, sailors will be able to keep that higher BAH throughout their tours even if their duty station is dropped from the critical housing list, according to NavAdmin 035/07 released Feb. 6. And it's retroactive to Dec. 4, 2007.

"There was a determination made that the policy was too restrictive and disadvantaged some sailors," said Cmdr. John Raffier, head of the pay and allowances section in the Navy's military pay and compensation branch.

"We looked at the policy to see how much leeway we had and decided to change the rules to allow sailors put in this situation to collect the higher level of BAH for the remainder of their tour of duty," he said.

But if they choose to do back-to-back tours in the new area, they will need a waiver to continue to collect the higher BAH, Raffier said.

The back pay comes into play for those who were already geographic bachelors in one of seven locations the Navy took off the critical list last year: Hampton Roads, Va.; Lemoore, Seal Beach and China Lake, Calif.; Pascagoula and Meridian, Miss.; and Pensacola, Fla.

"If they have not moved their families they are once again eligible — they do not need to initiate any paperwork through their commands," Raffier said. "We wanted to make this as administratively easy as possible."

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