When combat or other deployment comes around, service members receive entitlements to partially compensate for the hardship, danger and costs of that deployment on the family.
It’s important to understand these factors to ensure that your family receive everything to which you’re entitled.
Entitlements during a deployment come in many different forms and vary based on location, conflict and authorizations for that particular area. Your finance office can provide specific information for each deployment, but here are the general categories and types of entitlements.
Hardship Duty Pay (HDP)
HDP compensates service members for locations or missions that are harder to endure. Pay is $50, $100 or $150 per month, depending on the hardship of a particular location. It’s pro-rated if your service member is there less than a month.
Hostile Fire or Imminent Danger Pay (HFP/IDP)
This is provided if your service member is assigned to an area in which they’re subject to hostile fire or mine explosions. Pay is received at a rate of $225 per month or $7.50 per day.
Family Separation Allowance (FSA)
Paid to service members with dependents who are away from their family for over 30 days. After you’ve been separated for 31 days (and file DD Form 1561), FSA will be paid retroactively back to the first day of separation at the rate of $250 per month or $8.33 per day.
Earnings received in a combat zone are tax free, up to the maximum enlisted pay amount (which is $7,509 in 2014). With a 15% tax rate, that could save your family over $1,100 each month. The service member will still pay for Social Security and Medicare (FICA) on full pay.
Check your LES!
HDP, HFP/IDP, FSA and the tax exemption should be posted on your service member’s Leave and Earning Statement (LES) the month after they deploy. Your spouse can download their LES from www.dfas.mil to verify entitlements. If not, contact your finance office quickly to make the appropriate adjustments.
Although meals and housing are normally provided on a deployment, your service member is still entitled to Temporary Duty (TDY), but can receive it at only the “incidental rate,” which is $3.50 per day. This is normally paid out to the service member after they return and complete a final travel voucher (DD Form 1351-2). After nine months, this can be over $1,000, so make sure you and your spouse take time to file the per diem.
The Savings Deposit Program (SDP)
This program allows your service member to deposit up to one month’s net pay each month, up to a total of $10,000, into a special account at DFAS. The money will earn 10% interest and continue to accrue interest up to 90 days after redeployment. It’s a great way to save money and, if you can deposit $10,000, your family will earn an extra $1,000 during a one-year deployment.
What’s the bottom line?
Know your entitlements and have a plan for the additional funds so that you can best contribute to your family’s well being.