Each year about this time, I wade through the provisions of the annual Defense Authorization Act, in order to give you a preview of what our members of Congress have in store for you in the way of pay and benefit changes for the upcoming year.
Congress has approved the Fiscal Year 2007 Military Authorization Act, and President Bush signed the act into Law on October 17, 2006. This annual act contains authorization for pay and benefit changes for military personnel for the upcoming year. There were initially two versions of the act, the House version and the Senate version, which contained many differences that had to be ironed out by a joint House/Senate conference committee, before being submitted to a final vote.
Here's a look at the provisions that made it, and the proposals that got the cut for 2007:
WHAT MADE IT
Base Pay. Congress approved an across-the-board 2.2 percent increase in Basic Pay over 2006 rates. Additionally, the law provides for a second, "targeted" raise of up to 8.3 percent for some warrant officers and mid-level enlisted members. Under previous law, military members stopped receiving raises for "years-of-service" once they had 26 years in the military. The new law provides for "longevity raises" for some senior ranking commissioned officers, warrant officers, and enlisted members who have between 26 and 40 years of military service.
The 2.2 percent raise and the "longevity" rates are effective on January 1, 2007, which means military members will see the increase in their January 15th paychecks. The separate "targeted" raise is effective on 1 April 2007.
For what this means in dollars and cents, see our 2007 Military Base Pay Charts.
Housing Allowance. Once again, Congress has decided to fund military housing allowance at 100 percent of the average off-base rental costs. The Department of Defense released the 2007 rates on December 15th. The new rates will be effective on January 1.
Second Housing Allowance for Reservists. The new law allows the Reserves to pay a second housing allowance to reservists who are called to active duty (for 139 days or more) in support of a contingency operation to a duty station farther than commuting distance from their permanent place of residence. One allowance would be paid for their home and a second allowance would be paid for the duty location, if on-base lodging is not available. However, the law allows the individual services to set up their own rules about when the allowance should be paid, making it a sure thing that the services will only elect to pay this allowance if it is cheaper than paying per diem. The provision is retroactive to October 1, 2006, but expect it to take several months for the services to write rules/regulations to implement the new procedures.
Housing Allowance for Surviving Spouses Who Are in the Military. The new law allows a surviving spouse, who is also a military member, to receive the deceased member's housing allowance for 12 months following the death of the member. Under the old law, this entitlement was restricted only to surviving non-military spouses. This provision is effective October 1, 2006, but payments are retroactive for any military member who's military spouse died on or after October 1, 2005.