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Air Force Benefit Fact Sheet

Source: Air Force Benefit Fact Sheet

Revised: Mar 2006


In accordance with AFI 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure, paragraph 4.1.7., and noted in AFPAM36-2241VI, Promotion Fitness Examination (PFE) Study Guide, paragraph, the professional enhancement of subordinates must be a primary responsibility for all NCOs. This great responsibility includes the requirement to conduct Career Counseling during Performance Feedback or Selective Reenlistment Program (SRP) review, and the requirement to review and provide the member a copy of this document when doing so.





1.      Basic Pay:   This main component of your military pay is based on your grade and time in service.  It is computed using your “pay date”.  You can find your pay date located in the top line of your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES).  The most recent approved basic pay increase was approved at 3.1% for FY 2006.  You can refer to current and past basic pay information by logging on to .


2.      Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH):  A number of years ago the Air Force dedicated itself to eliminating the out of pocket expense incurred by members required to live off base.  The most recent in crease approved for 2005 achieved that goal by bringing the average cost of off base housing procurement to zero.  This allowance (non-taxable) is intended to cover rent, utilities, and renter’s insurance for adequate housing.  For details on how information is collected and current rates please visit .


3.      Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS):  All Basic Military Training graduates will begin receiving this monthly allowance (non-taxable) to offset costs for meals.  BAS rates are evaluated annually and adjusted based on the cast of food.  Regular BAS for enlisted members is $272.26 and for officers is $187.49.


4.      Combat Zone Tax Exclusion:  Members performing duty in, or in “direct support” of, areas designated by the President or Congress may receive tax-exempt pay.


5.      Uniformed Service Savings Deposit Program:  Members may earn a guaranteed 10% interest (calculated annually) on savings deposited while deployed to specific areas in support of various operational missions.  Specific rules and limitations apply.  Contact you local finance office prior to deployment for details. 


6.      Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance:  (FSSA for in addition to BAS):  FSSA is an additional food allowance some large military families may qualify for and is based on total household income. Contact your Supervisor or First Sergeant for assistance in determining eligibility. 


7.      Federal Tax Advantage:  Military personnel receive additional indirect compensation since some allowances are not taxable.  These allowances include BAS, BAH, Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA), Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA), and Family Separation Allowance (FSA).  Members are eligible for further tax advantages of basic pay and other special pays through participation in the Uniformed Services Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).  More information on TSP can be found in item 12.


8.      Medical and Dental:  A comprehensive medical plan is one of the benefits afforded you and your family as an Active Duty member.  TRICARE is the name of the Defense Department’s regional managed health care program.  Under TRICARE, there are three health plan options: TRICARE Prime (all active duty are automatically in Prime, but family members have other options); TRICARE Standard, a fee for service plan; TRICARE Extra, a Preferred Provider Organization plan.  The personal costs experienced are determined by the plan selected.  For additional information, please contact the Beneficiary Counseling and Assistance Coordinator at the nearest military treatment facility.


The Air Force Medical Service provides required dental care for all active duty personnel at no cost to the member.  Family members may receive dental care through the military system in many OCONUS locations, or through the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP), available in both CONUS and OCONUS areas.  The TDP is a dental insurance program, with monthly TDP premiums that are cost-shared by the Department of Defense (i.e., government pays 60% and the sponsor pays 40%).  The sponsor’s monthly premium payment is about $8 when a single-family member is enrolled and about $20 for two or more enrolled family members.  TDP information is located at or call 1-888-866-8499 (CONUS) or 1-888-418-0466 and 1-717-975-5017 (OCONUS).


9.      Military Leave and Passes:  Active Duty members accumulate 2.5 days leave per month totaling 30 days of paid leave each year.  While earned leave is intended for use throughout the year, members may carry forward leave not to exceed 60 days at the end of the fiscal year.  Some exceptions to this policy may apply in specific circumstances.  AFI 36-3003, Military Leave Program


10.  Military Pay Raises:  Law sets military pay raises set at .5% below the Employment Cost Index (ECI) published by the Department of Labor.  However, the FY00 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) changed the law to allow military pay raises to be set at .5% above the ECI through the year 2006.  The 2005 pay raise has been set at 3.5%.


11.  Special and Incentive Pays:  There are a variety of special and incentive pays a member may be eligible to receive including; Selective Reenlistment Bonuses, Initial Enlistment Bonuses (IEB), Continuation Bonuses, Accession Bonuses, Proficiency Pays, career incentive pays, deployment pays, hazardous duty pays, and other special pays depending on specific qualifications.


12.  Other Entitlements:             


a.       CONUS COLA:  Members and authorized dependents may be entitled to CONUS COLA when assigned or residing in a high-cost area.


b.      Family Separation Allowance (FSA):  Effective 28 Oct 2004, members may qualify for FSA at $250 per month when separated from their dependents or military spouse for more than 30 consecutive days due to military orders.


c.       Family Separation Housing (FSH):  Members who serve unaccompanied tours and are not provided single-type government quarters at their OCONUS duty station are entitled to FSH.  FSH is equal to the single-rate Overseas Housing Amount (OHA).


d.      Schooling for dependents overseas and at some CONUS bases.


e.       Station Allowances:  Members may be authorized certain station allowances for themselves and their command-sponsored dependents when assigned OCONUS.  They include Overseas Housing Allowance, Cost of Living Allowance, and Temporary Living Allowance.


f.       Travel Entitlements:  Members may be eligible for a wide variety of travel entitlements for themselves and their authorized dependents when ordered to perform official travel for TDY and/or PCS.  Members should seek counseling from their MPF, FSO, and TMO.  The following are some of the many entitlements available:


Transportation and Per Diem and Reimbursable Expenses

Temporary Lodging Expense and Household Goods Shipments

Temporary and Non-Temporary Storage of Household Goods

Privately-Owned Vehicle (POV) Shipment and Storage

Dislocation Allowance

Evacuation/Safe Haven Entitlements

Partial Reimbursement of Pet Quarantine Fees

Reimbursement for Rental Car when POV Arrives Late




13.  Retirement Pay:  One of the most attractive incentives of a military career is the retirement system that provides a monthly retirement income for those who serve a minimum of twenty years.  Your retirement represents a considerable value over your life expectancy.  While many civilian employees must contribute monetarily to their retirement, yours is provided based solely on your honorable service. There are three retirement plans in effect -- Final Pay, High-3, and Choice of High-3 or Redux with $30K Career Status Bonus.  Your retirement plan is determined by your Date Initially Entered Military Service (DIEMS) date Retirement/Separation Information and 





(as determined by DIEMS) (Note 1)

Retired Pay Formula

(Notes 2, 3 & 4)

Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) (Note 5)

Final Basic Pay

Entered service prior to 8 Sep 80

2.5% times the years of service times final basic pay

Full inflation protection; COLA based on Consumer Price Index (CPI)

High-3 (Note 6)

Entered service on or after 8 Sep 80 and before 1 Aug 86

2.5% times the years of service times the average of the highest 36 months of basic pay

Full inflation protection; COLA based on Consumer Price Index (CPI)

High-3 Choice




Redux/CSB Choice:  Instead of retiring under High-3, members may choose to receive a $30,000 (Note 7) “Career Status Bonus” at 15 years of service in exchange for agreeing to serve to at least 20 years of service and then retiring under the less generous Redux plan.

Entered service on or after 1 Aug 86

High-3: 2.5% times the years of service times the average of the highest 36 months of basic pay



*Redux/CSB option: 2.5% times the years of service, minus one percentage point from the product for each year less than 30 years, times the average of the highest 36 months of basic pay.  At age 62, retired pay is recalculated without deducting the one percentage point for each year less than 30, which allows it to catch up to what it would have been without the Redux penalty.

High-3: Full inflation protection; COLA based on Consumer Price Index (CPI)


*Redux/CSB option: Partial inflation protection; COLA based on Consumer Price Index (CPI) minus 1 percent.  At age 62, retired pay is adjusted to reflect full COLA since retirement.  Partial COLA then resumes after age 62.

Note 1: Date initially entered military service (DIEMS) refers to the fixed date the member was first enlisted, appointed, or inducted.  This includes cadets at the Service Academies, students enrolled in a reserve component as part of the Services’ senior ROTC programs or ROTC financial assistance programs, students in the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, participants in the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship program, officer candidates attending Officer Training School, and members in the Delayed Entry Program.

Note 2:             The maximum multiplier is 75 percent times basic pay. 

Note 3: Members should be aware that the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act allows state courts to consider military retired pay as divisible property in divorce settlements.  The law does not direct state courts to divide retired; it simply permits them to do so.

Note 4: Retired pay stops upon the death of the retiree unless he or she was enrolled in the Survivor Benefit Plan.  See “Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)” on page 3 for additional information on this program.

Note 5:  COLA is applied annually to retired pay.

Note 6:  High-3 is a reference to the average of the high three years or, more specifically, the high 36 months of basic pay as used in the formula.

Note 7.  Effective 28 Dec 01, members may elect one of 5 options to receive the $30K CSB:  one lump sum payment of $30k; two annual payments of $15K; three annual payments of $10K; four annual payments of $7.5K; or five annual payments of $6K.


14.  Thrift Savings Plan (TSP):  Military members can now take advantage of the popular TSP, which federal civilian employees have long enjoyed.  The TSP provides military members a 401(k)-like savings plan, which allows members to contribute pre-tax dollars, thereby reducing current taxes, and to accumulate long-term, tax-deferred savings and earnings, which can supplement future retirement income.  Participation is painless through payroll deduction, and account management is easy via worldwide web interface.  The TSP in conjunction with Social Security retirement benefits and the military pension can provide for a great retirement. and TSP Information and


15.  Death and Survivor Benefits


a.      Servicemember’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI):  If you elect to participate in SGLI and subsequently die on active duty, your survivors will be eligible for life insurance payments. You may buy life insurance coverage in $10,000 increments up to $400,000 at a very low cost. Additionally, family member coverage of $100,000 for spouses (except that spouse coverage is limited to no more than the member’s current coverage) and $10,000 per child became effective 1 Nov 01 and was automatic for all members participating in SGLI.  The spouse coverage premium is an additional monthly premium of $6-$54 for maximum coverage based on age of spouse; child coverage is free.  You have the option to reduce or decline spouse coverage and the associated premium.


b.      Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC):  Dependents may also receive monthly DIC payments (nontaxable) in the amount of $993 for the surviving spouse and an additional $247 for each surviving child.  DIC is adjusted annually for inflation.  


c.       Death Gratuity:  A $100,000 payment to your next of kin to meet immediate cash needs will be made within strict timelines in the event of your death while on active duty.  Death Gratuity Information


d.      Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP):  Your active duty pay stops when you die.  However, if you die on active duty with 20 or more years of service, or in the line of duty with less than 20 years of service, your surviving spouse and children are automatically protected by the SBP--at no cost to you.  For AD deaths in the line of duty, the surviving spouse will get a monthly SBP annuity equal to the difference between the DIC payment and 55% of what your retired pay would have been if you had been retired for total disability on the date of your death. (SBP will also guarantee your survivors receive a portion of your retired pay if you enroll in SBP right before you retire.   Retirees are required to pay monthly premiums.  The annuity payable is 55% of the elected base amount.)  (There is no longer a reduction in the annuity at age 62 to 35% due to the passage of PL 108-375, 28 Oct 04).  The SBP annuity is adjusted each year by the same percentage increase given to military retired pay. and Survivor Benefit Plan Considerations


e.       Other substantial benefits:  May be available upon the death of a member:  Reimbursement of some burial costs, housing for 180 days, active duty transitional health and dental care for 3 years, commissary and exchange privileges, and various Veteran's Affairs and Social Security benefits. Service Benefits


16.  Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program:  Members may be eligible to obtain coverage from the FLTCIP at premiums estimated to be 15-20% less than standard premiums for comparable coverage. and





15.    Base Exchange:  "We Go Where You Go" is the motto of AAFES.  For more than 105 years, the exchange service has remained true to its commitment to Value, Service, and Support for the military customer and their families worldwide.  Independent price surveys indicate that AAFES’ customers save an average of 11% over the competition.  AAFES helps in two principal ways.  First is its guarantee to "meet or beat" any retailer's price on the same item (under $5, no questions asked, or over $5, within 30 days of the retailers advertisement).  Second, profits are used to support the Services' morale, welfare, and recreation programs.  AAFES now offers 24/7 conveniences through its new website:


16.    Base Services:  Installation services programs provide conveniently located, low-cost, professionally managed activities and entertainment.  Programs include the golf course, child development center, skills development center, auto skills, aero club, community centers, swimming pool, enlisted club, intramural sports, bowling center, library, chapel, youth center, outdoor recreation, and discounts on special events/off-base recreation areas through Information, Ticket and Tours and the base fitness center in conjunction with the SG-run health and wellness center.


17.    Career Broadening Opportunities:  Assignments, Special Duty Assignments, Retraining, Overseas Duty, etcAssignment Information


18.    Child Care/Youth Programs:  Child Development Centers (CDC) offer care on a space available basis for children 0-5 years of age.  Air Force licensed family childcare is available at most installations.  AF centers are certified by the Department of Defense and accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.  Fees are based on total family income.   Before and after school programs are also offered as part of our Youth Programs.  Youth Centers are affiliated with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and offer a variety of character and leadership development, education and career development, health and life skills, arts, and sports, fitness and recreation programs.  Extended duty childcare is offered for members required to work late or who have regular childcare arrangements, temporarily not available.


19.    Commissary:  The Defense Commissary Agency’s vision statement is: “The Commissary Benefit--Cornerstone of Military Quality of Life.  It is our goal to provide this premier quality of life benefit to our military efficiently and effectively.”  Items are sold at cost plus a 5% surcharge, which covers the construction of new commissaries and modernization of existing stores.  Customers save an average of 30%, approximately $2,400 per year for a family of four, compared to commercial prices.  Military members and retirees consistently indicate commissaries are one of the most important benefits.


20.    Commissioning Opportunities:  The Airmen Education and Commission Program is an excellent way for enlisted members to earn a college degree and commission by attending Officer Training School or Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).  Participants attend college full time (for 1-3 years), receive up to $15K for tuition annually, and continue to receive pay and benefits.  Additionally, ROTC implemented a 1-year Professional Officer Corps Program that allows enlisted personnel, within one year of completing a bachelor's degree, to separate from the Air Force and attend ROTC to earn a commission.


21.    Education:


a.       Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB):  Individuals entering the Air Force after 1 Jul 85 are automatically enrolled in the MGIB, unless they disenroll in basic training.  The MGIB requires a $100 a month nontaxable pay reduction for the first full 12 months of active duty.  Benefits are currently $1104 a month for 36 months (adjusted annually based on the consumer price index).  Members who elected to participate in the Montgomery GI Bill upon entering active duty (after 30 June 1985) and agreed to payroll deduction of $100 a month for a total of 12 months, can receive a benefit of $39,744 with yearly increases as determined by the consumer price index or other Congressional action. Find out how to increase your monthly benefit by looking at the “Buy Up” program at!


b.      Tuition Assistance:  The Air Force currently pays 100% of tuition up to $250 per credit hour ($4,500 annually) in off-duty courses with accredited schools.  The Air Force provides free CLEP/DANTES testing that could result in receiving college credit versus having to enroll in certain classes.


c.       Scholarships:  Many scholarships are available for both military members and their families.  Eagle Grants are also available for CCAF graduates who are pursuing a bachelor's degree.  Grants range from $250 to $500 and may be used in conjunction with Tuition Assistance  Military spouses’ organizations also offer scholarship opportunities


22.    Family Support Centers (FSC):  The Air Force realizes there is a direct relationship between a member’s ability to successfully accomplish the mission and the quality of life of their family.  Because of this relationship, many programs are offered through the base FSC to promote a positive family and community environment.  The FSC offers a Transition Assistance Program for those separating/retiring from the Air Force, an extensive Relocation Assistance Program that includes a Smooth Move program to prepare those who will PCS and a base newcomer’s tour.  The family services program offers a loan locker, which includes pots, pans, cribs, and other household items available for checkout to relocating members and their families.  The volunteer resource office maintains a list of agencies accepting volunteers and a list of those wishing to volunteer.  The family life program offers classes in parenting, couples communication, stress management, and a host of other family-related courses.  The family readiness program prepares families for the stress of deployments, NEOs, and repatriations.  Emergency financial assistance is available through the Air Force Aid office, and the Personal Financial Management Program offers information, education, and personal financial counseling on the full range of financial issues.  FSCs are the first stop on base for information and referral services for all individual and family issue.  In addition to these traditional FSC programs, the Air Force has a comprehensive community web site at  Crossroads provides our military members and their families access to a wide range of resources from information on 300+ DOD Installations to a spouse forum, secure and monitored teen forum, and spouse employment web-site with exclusive access to jobs for our AF Family members. Family Support


23.    IDEA Program:  Air Force members may participate in the Innovative Development Through Employee Awareness (IDEA) Program and be eligible to receive monetary recognition.  AF members may receive up to $10,000 for each approved idea that results in validated tangible savings, and $200 for approved ideas resulting in intangible benefits.  The AF IDEA Program encourages creative thinking and rewards individuals whose ideas improve the efficiency, economy, and effectiveness of AF, DoD, and federal government operations.  Click on and submit your idea today.  Attention:  To access the website personnel will need to copy and paste URL into their web browser.  Personnel will need to be on a .mil computer system. 


24.    Legal Assistance:  The base Legal Assistance Office assists members with preparing wills, powers of attorney, and notarial acts, and provides advice on domestic relations problems, contracts, civil law matters, and income tax assistance.


25.    Promotion Opportunity:  The primary objective of our promotion system is to provide individuals rank commensurate with the responsibility and leadership requirements of the positions they hold.  Our system is impartial, visible, and provides equal selection opportunity to all eligible.  Airmen are promoted (fully qualified) through senior airman after meeting minimum eligibility requirements with approximately 15% of airman first class advanced to SrA six months prior to the fully qualified phase point through the SrA Below-the-Zone program.  SrA through TSgt compete for promotion under the Weighted Airmen Promotion System (WAPS) in their control air force specialty (CAFSC) held as of the cycle promotion eligibility cutoff date (PECD) and require a primary air force specialty (PAFSC) skill level commensurate with the higher grade.  In addition to WAPS consideration, commanders at all levels can nominate SrA through TSgts for advancement under the Stripes for Exceptional Performers (STEP) program.  Lastly, promotion to SMSgt and CMSgt consists of a two-phase process.  Phase one is similar to WAPS consideration with a slight variance in weighted factors.  Phase two consists of a central evaluation board process to evaluate an individuals potential to serve in the higher grade.  The Air Force uses the combined total score of phase one and two to select individuals for promotion. Enlisted Promotions


26.    Space Available Travel:  Active duty members are eligible for travel aboard military aircraft worldwide while family members are eligible for space available travel outside the CONUS .  There is a trial process in place allowing dependent travel inside the CONUS until further notice.


27.    VA Home Loans:  AF members may be eligible for home loans through the Veterans Administration.


28.    Vocational Training Opportunity:  AF members have training opportunities for both formal training associated with AFSC and various classes related to personal enhancement (PME, computer classes, management training, etc.).


29.  Programs for documented personal difficulties:  Emergency leave with priority on military aircraft, Humanitarian reassignment, Permissive reassignment, Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), Air Force Aid Society




Honor serving your country

Proud military heritage and tradition

Job security

Member of a profession highly respected by the American public

A different and unique way of life--opportunities for personal growth and development

Continuous improvement in quality of life initiatives

Opportunities for leadership early in your career with resources and guidance

Interaction with working professionals around the world and the Air Force family

Fair, impartial treatment for all--equal opportunities for jobs, promotions, and recognition




America’s Air Force...Cross Into the Blue!



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Page Updated On: 19 June 2005