There seems to be a bit of mystery around an LES. Since it's a financial statement that utilizes lots of abbreviations and acronyms, it's easy to see how people may think it's complicated. But really, even though it IS a lot of pay information formatted to fit on one page, it's not difficult to locate the key information that matters each month. And it's important to do so because it's about your money. Here are some of the items you will want to "pay" attention to.
What is an LES?
An LES is quite simply a monthly statement listing your military pay. It also includes the allowances you receive, as well as the leave, or vacation days, you have earned. That is why it is called a "leave" and "earnings" statement.
Your LES may be accessed electronically at myPay. Coast Guard personnel may access their pay statements at the Coast Guard Pay & Personnel Center. Military personnel will need a login and password unless they access the site from their DoD computer using a Common Access Card (CAC). The latter is the safest way to view your financial record since the DoD network encrypts the information.
What is important for me to know about my LES?
Your LES will establish how much money you will receive over a month. There are many changes to your LES, some which you initiate and others which may occur as a result of training or deployment, a change in laws or even a negligent debt. For sound financial health, it's important to stay on top of your monthly LES statement by paying attention to these items:
- Know what your pay should be. Check the pay tables for base pay. Look for the current Basic Allowance for Subsistence, which is a payment to offset the cost of the service member's meals. Look up the Basic Allowance for Housing for your area if you are not living in government quarters. Also include any special or incentive pay, such as hostile fire pay or imminent danger pay, for which you qualify.
- Know what changes should occur to your pay. These would be deductions (includes taxes, Medicare and Social Security) and allotments (which include payments to bank accounts, insurance, savings bonds, charity or repayments of debt, such as delinquent taxes, unpaid spousal or child support, commercial debt and the like). If an expected change does not occur, be sure to contact your finance office as soon as possible to correct it.
- Be aware of your leave balance. Service members earn 2.5 days per month and may lose unused leave over a certain balance, which currently is 75 days.
- Know that mistakes can happen. If you have been erroneously credited with pay over several pay periods, the overage could be deducted all at once, which may leave you suddenly with "no pay due."
- Keep a copy of one year's LES records. This will help you as you watch for changes from month to month so you will recognize when a problem occurs. It will help you to establish a basic expectation of your pay amount. If you deploy or you begin an allotment, you will be able to recognize how that will affect the amount of your paycheck.
Deciphering the LES form
To understand each and every box on your LES, you can refer to the branch-specific Understanding your LES page on the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) site. However, here are the key boxes you will want to review:
- Entitlements (Box 10) - This will list your base pay and any allowances you receive.
- Deductions (Box 11) - This will include taxes and insurance plans.
- Allotments (Box 12) - These deductions include payments, either voluntary or required, that are made to individuals, institutions or agencies.
- End of month pay (Box 19) - This tells you the actual amount of money you will be paid at the end of the month.
- Leave (Box 28) - This shows the current leave balance available. This amount is based on the leave you have earned minus the amount you have used. You may also want to check Box 32 to see if you will lose any leave by not using it.
- Remarks (Box 76) - This is the area used to explain any changes to your pay, as well as to display notices from the command.
What if I see something wrong on my LES?
The most important action to take if something looks amiss is to visit your finance office or administrative unit for help. You may learn that it was not a mistake at all, or your concern may be validated. In either case, it's a good idea to have an expert review it. If you are unsure of where to go, access the support page of myPay for help.