Every month, each military member has a Leave and Earnings Statement that shows pays, allowances, deduction, allotments, retirement contributions, insurance premiums, and leave balances. Because these are available online, it’s easy to skip over the important step of reviewing and saving it each month. However, this document is the key to all your financial, retirement, insurance and leave information. Catching errors the first month makes your life sooooo much easier – and errors do happen. As my friend Rob says, “You have not seen your last pay problem.” He’s generally right.
I recommend you download a soft copy to your preferred cloud-based storage, and also keep a hard copy. It is time consuming to track down old LES after they fall off of MyPay.
While your finance or admin department and DFAS should be working hard to ensure that all your pays and allowances are being accurately reflected in your pay, the final responsibility lies with the service member. So take 5 minutes each month to check these five things:
Pay, Allowances, Allotments and Debts
Give your LES a quick scan to ensure that you don’t see any overpayments, and that there aren’t any debts listed. If you have allotments set up, be sure that they are being deducted.
If you are receiving pay or allowances that you are not entitled to receive, double time to your admin or finance people to make sure you don’t get overpaid again and to figure out how you’ll repay that new debt. Set that money aside in a separate bank account so it doesn’t accidentally get spent.
Debts can be a little confusing because perfectly logical things often show up as debts, including catch-up TSP contributions. If you have a debt listed and you don’t know why, check with your admin or finance people to find out what’s happening there.
Servicemembers Group Life Insurance/Family Servicemembers Group Life Insurance
It’s important to verify your insurance coverages each month, and the easiest way to do that is to check your LES. If you don’t see SGLI/FSGLI premiums being paid, you probably don’t have coverage. Too many families have discovered this the hard way, and that is a tragedy on top of another tragedy. So check it!
Actual payments are shown in the deductions section in the middle of your LES.
Your coverage amounts are listed in the notes at the bottom of the LES.
BAH Zip Code and Status
Take a quick glance to ensure that you are receiving BAH for the right status and location. This is especially important around a Permanent Change of Station, because weird things happen. BAH overpayments can add up fast – we once owed the Navy $10,000 for BAH overpayments because something didn’t get switched during a move.
Your VHA Zip block may show a strange zip code, but it may be the administrative location for your Military Housing Area. A quick google zip should give you an idea if that makes sense.
Use your LES to verify that your designated Thrift Savings Plan contributions are being made. You can see the ddollar amount in the deductions section in the middle of the page, and the percentage amount listed below in the smaller boxes.
Under that section, you can also see how much you have contributed for the year.
If you have coverage through the Tricare Dental program, administered by United Concordia, premiums should be coming out of your pay each month. You can see that in the allotments section on the right hand side of the LES.
If you aren’t having premiums deducted, you either don’t have the coverage that you think you have, or you are accruing a debt that will eventually have to be repaid. Figure out which so you can fix it.
It might take a little while to get to your LES the first time if you don’t use MyPay regularly, but once you are set up and settled it will take less than 5 minutes to open up your monthly LES, make soft and hard copies for your records, and give it a quick review. You’ll know exactly where you stand with all the important part of your financial, insurance, leave and retirement information, and you’ll see errors quickly and be able to get them corrected before they turn into huge messes.