The military paycheck is commonly referred to as the LES, Leave Earning Statement. The LES will tell you basic information, entitlements, deduction, allotments and summaries. All these are labeled by abbreviations which can be confusing if you do not know what they stand for. Also, the LES will only show everything on the last day of the month, not the mid-month pay which shows on the 15th.
The first place to look on the LES is the ID row area. It is on the top of the LES and reads left to right. Here your soldier’s vital information is listed and should be checked for accuracy. This will include his name, social security number, address, his years of service, rank and ETS (when his current enlistment will end). It is important to check rank and years of service against your records as this can greatly affect your pay rate.
Base pay or wage period is the amount of pay earned during the LES period. This is taxable unless your soldier is deployed. BAS, basic allowance for subsistence, applies generally to married soldiers. This is an entitlement for food, single soldiers do not receive this as they will eat in the chow halls. Higher ranking soldiers, with approval, may live off-post and receive BAS. The BAH, basic allowance for housing, also applies to married soldiers. If you live on post, the BAH will go directly to post housing. For those who live off post, the BAH will be directed to you to use for rent and utilities. The amount of your BAH is dependent on the zip code listed on the LES. Higher ranking single soldiers and unaccompanied married soldiers may be eligible for BAH. Finally is special pay. For soldiers who have special training such as airborne or diving, it will show here. Soldiers stationed in areas like Korea or are deployed, there is hazardous duty special pay as well.
Federal taxes, state taxes, social security and Medicaid will be shown here. If you claim residency in a state that does not have taxes, such as Texas, none will be shown here. The SGLI, Service members Group Life Insurance, is a payment towards the soldier’s life insurance. The SP/FAM SGLI is payment toward life insurance on spouse and children. The AFRH, Armed Forces Retirement Homes, is a contribution towards retired veterans. Generally this is fifty cents a paycheck. The MGIB, Montgomery GI Bill, is required payment during the first year of military service. The mid month pay, if you elected for this, will also show up in this box on the last day of the month.
The Comb Fed Campaign, Combined Federal Campaign, is a non-taxable deduction. This is a donation to a charity or charities of the soldier’s choice. DED Allotment refers to any allotment the soldier has set up personally. For those making direct car payments or directly adding funds to a saving accounts, it will show up here. While Tricare is free and a benefit for all military members and their dependents, dental is not. If you have elected for dental insurance, the deduction will be shown here and is non-taxable. If you live on post, the deduction of your BAH being paid to post housing will be shown here. Any debt owed to the military, such as an AER loan, is shown here as well. The debt will be listed as US DEBT.
The summary box will show total month pay, total deductions, total allotments and net pay. DIEMS will show the original date the soldier started his military service. RETPLAN, retirement plan, will show which plan the soldier chose.
Following these boxes are a few more lines of information. The leave row shows amount of leave used, amount available and amount available to his ETS date. The FICA taxes row will show all taxes year to date. It will also show state taxes, if it applies. The TSP, Thrift Saving Plan, shows percentage and amount paid. This is a volunteer program, it may not apply to you. The pay data row shows basic information such as dependents, spouse, unaccompanied, accompanied, zip codes and rations.
It is a smart idea to routinely check your LES. If you spot any inaccuracies, contact your local financial branch office. Generally, your paycheck and any money owed to you will be rectified within two months. One big rule of thumb to remember, if you receive extra pay do not spend it. If the military overpaid you, they can quickly deduct it from your next paycheck without warning. Check first to make sure you were entitled to that extra pay.