NDAA Update: 2024 NDAA Reflects Financial Provisions to Help Military Families
The Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (FY 24 NDAA) has passed the House and Senate and is on its way to the President for signature. This year’s bill has some nice presents for military families.
Congress authorized a 5.2% pay raise. This is the highest pay raise for service members in 20 years.
Help for Junior Enlisted
Congress authorized the Secretary of Defense to award a bonus for the ranks of E6 and below that would be awarded as a percentage of their pay when “prevailing economic conditions may adversely affect an eligible member.”
Family Separation Allowance
Big news! Family Separation Allowance (FSA) was increased for the first time in over 20 years. Monthly FSA will increase from $250 to $400 with recommendations on additional increases included in each Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation (QRMC).
Over the years, we’ve heard complaints from families living outside the continental United States (OCONUS) about the difficulty of budgeting for fluctuations in the cost-of-living allowance (COLA). To help families navigate these fluctuations, Congress has prohibited the adjustment of OCONUS COLA to no more than twice per year or in connection with a permanent change of station (PCS).
Commissaries were funded at a record level – $1.48 billion. Our Association appreciates Congress recognizing the important role commissaries play in offering service members, retirees, and their families quality affordable food.
We are pleased that a provision prohibiting the sale of goods manufactured, assembled, or imported from China in the commissaries and exchanges was dropped from the final bill.
Improved Survivor Benefits
Congress extended commissary, exchange, and MWR privileges to remarried surviving spouses.
However, it wasn’t all good news. Several provisions that would have enhanced military families’ financial well-being were dropped in the final bill.
We are disappointed that Congress did not include any incremental increases to the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). Our Association will continue to fight to permanently restore service members’ housing allowance to the full 100 percent.
Basic Needs Allowance
The FY 2021 NDAA created a Basic Needs Allowance (BNA), a targeted pay boost for military families whose incomes and household size put them below 130 percent of federal poverty guidelines. The cap was later revised upward to 150 percent.
The BNA was intended to address the pervasive problem of food insecurity among military families. However, because BAH is included in determining eligibility for the BNA, few military families can qualify.
We’ve asked Congress to eliminate BAH from BNA eligibility calculations, a simple fix that would expand the number of struggling military families who can access this much-needed assistance.
Unfortunately, Congress has again stopped short of making this change. Instead, the NDAA allows the service secretaries to exclude BAH in cases of “demonstrated need.” We will push the DoD to interpret this guidance as broadly as possible to help ensure that more military families receive the assistance they need.
NMFA will continue to advocate on your behalf. Continue sharing your stories with us as we do.