Current as of Dec. 15, 2020
The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic may affect many aspects of your military life, including financial readiness. If you and your family are experiencing challenges, the Department of Defense offers a number of services to help you take control and minimize financial distress.
Coronavirus-related pays and entitlements
The DOD has newly authorized HDP-ROM in response to the COVID-19 emergency. If you are ordered to self-monitor somewhere other than your home and are not on official travel orders, you could be eligible for this pay. Contact your chain of command to find out if you qualify.
If you are eligible for this pay, you can receive up to $100 per day and $1,500 a month to compensate you for the hardship of having to pay out of pocket for lodging while in isolation. You must be paying to stay somewhere other than your own residence, a government lodging facility or a hotel that is paid for by the government. This pay is taxable and intended to defray the hardship incurred when service members have to pay out of their own pocket, without reimbursement, for lodging due to orders from their command to self-isolate.
Service members who receive Special or Incentive Pay(s) that require performance of specific duties (e.g., Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay, Aviation Incentive Pay) who are unable to perform those duties due to COVID-19 restrictions should know that the assistant secretary of defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs recently announced that your service secretary can waive those performance requirements so that you can continue to receive these special and incentive pays during this emergency period.
Speak to your chain of command to find out if you qualify.
Travel restrictions may impact your Permanent Change of Station and your eligibility for BAH in one of the following ways:
- If you’ve moved, but your dependents had to stay behind, you may be eligible for BAH with-dependents at the old location and a Family Separation Housing allowance at the new location.
- If your dependents have moved, but you had to stay behind, you are entitled to BAH at the old or new duty station, whichever is more equitable, but not both.
- If you have not yet started your PCS, you will only be eligible for BAH at the old location.
If the travel restrictions are affecting you and your family in one of the ways listed above, you may do the following:
- Contact your personnel or housing office and the gaining command to see if there are any options for temporary lodging
- Check with your housing provider to see if your lease or purchase agreement can be delayed
- Check to see if you may be exempt from the travel restrictions or if you could receive a hardship exception to proceed with the PCS
- Ask your legal office if you have options under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and the rental/purchase contract’s military clause, which may permit you to cancel the contract.
You may also keep up with ongoing changes to travel and housing policy due to COVID-19 at the Defense Travel and Housing Policy website.
Military service relief organizations
Depending on the circumstances, service relief organizations may provide emergency financial help with interest-free loans, grants or a combination of loans and grants. They can also offer financial preparedness counseling and tuition assistance.
Go to your service relief organization’s website to learn more about eligibility and how to apply for aid, especially if you are impacted by COVID-19, or see our article on Emergency Financial Assistance to learn more:
Financial counseling can help
Service members can access free financial counseling through installation programs and Military OneSource. These counselors understand the financial challenges you may face as a result of COVID-19 and other stressors. Financial counselors can:
- Help you with personal finance basics. Counselors can go over your finances and suggest ways to control household costs. They can also teach you about managing your budget to stretch your resources.
- Help you with your credit. Financial counselors can provide information on consumer rights and make appropriate referrals to military and civilian resources responsible for resolving credit issues.
- Help you develop a debt-repayment plan. Counselors can help you contact creditors and come up with a plan to pay off debt.
- Coordinate with emergency financial assistance organizations. Counselors can help you learn more about service branch emergency financial aid organizations and request financial assistance, if necessary.
Where to find financial counseling services
Financial counseling is available through your installation’s Personal Financial Management Program, or through Military OneSource. Programs and services may vary by location.
- Military OneSource provides confidential, short-term counseling to address financial issues such as basic budgeting, money management and debt. Schedule an online or telephone counseling session by calling 800-342-9647 or via live chat.
- Installation Financial Readiness Management Programs include classes, seminars, one-on-one counseling and additional information to educate service members and their families about consumer rights and help them achieve financial stability. Personal financial counselors can also provide one-on-one calls and online presentations. Contact your installation to learn what services are available. Locate your nearest financial readiness manager by visiting MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.
Free MilTax services are available online
According to the Internal Revenue Service, people received on average $2,577 in direct deposit tax refunds in 2019. File early and replenish your savings with MilTax from Military OneSource if you expect to get a tax refund this year. MilTax provides free tax preparation and e-filing software, along with personalized support from MilTax consultants who understand the realities of military life, specific to service members and their families.
MilTax consultants can answer your questions about COVID-19 tax implications and your 2020 economic impact payment. Access MilTax software, call 800-342-9647 or connect via live chat to schedule an appointment with a MilTax consultant. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.
Use this time to learn
If the coronavirus is causing unexpected downtime for you or your family, it could be a good time to build your financial skills and knowledge through free financial educational courses offered by Military OneSource and the DOD.
Check out our Money Matter courses, developed by financial experts who understand military life. Course topics cover car-buying strategies, consumer credit, developing a spending plan and more.
A library of financial resources is also available through installation libraries and the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library. These include Consumer Reports, Gale Business Plan Builder, Gale Entrepreneurship, Morningstar Investment Research Center, Weiss Financial and EBSCO eBook Collection (which includes e-books on business and economics topics).
From personal financial counseling to learning opportunities, Military OneSource has resources to help you (service members and their families) maintain readiness. Have questions? Call 800-342-9647 or connect via live chat. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.