Almost all military members are paid twice a month. But the accounting is handled on a monthly basis. Why? And why should you care?
Understanding this monthly military pay system can help explain a lot of things about pay. This includes why your mid-month pay shows up as a deduction on your LES, how allotments work and why your mid-month pay and end-of-month pay may be different.
It may be useful to know that there are two main agencies that handle pay for military personnel. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) handles pay for:
- Air Force
- Marine Corps
- Space Force
The Coast Guard Pay & Personnel Center (CGP&PC) handles pay for:
- Coast Guard
- Public Health Service
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
While they are two different agencies, they process pay in generally the same way. While I’ve tried to refer to them generically in this article, if you see me mention one or the other, I mean both.
What This Looks Like On Your Military LES
When you look at your monthly military pay Leave and Earnings Statement, you’ll see that everything is listed monthly. And you’ll see that mid-month pay as a deduction. Here’s what it looks like:
Now, not every item on your LES is always monthly. There ARE a few pays that are paid by the day. And, say, if you have a change mid-month, like BAH or FSA. Those will be noted in the oh-so-important Remarks section at the bottom of your LES. But the monthly amount will be in the entitlements section because that’s how the accounting is done.
DFAS Estimates Your Mid-Month Pay
Around the 7th of each month, your pay agency estimates what your total monthly military pay is going to be. They use the information they have at that time. This includes the information they had for last month, plus changes made in the last week or two.
Then, they issue a payment for half of what they estimate your total month’s pay will be. If it helps to think of it this way, it’s sort of like a microloan against your full month’s paycheck. This is why the mid-month pay shows up as a deduction on your Leave and Earnings Statement.
Your End-of-Month Pay Is The Rest
Then, around the 23rd of the month, your pay agency calculates your total actual military pay and allowances. This includes all changes that were made from the last month to the date that the Leave and Earnings Statement is generated. This final calculation may be exactly the amount of what they estimated for your mid-month pay, or it could be very different.
The amount of your mid-month pay is deducted from the total pay, leaving the rest to be paid as your end-of-month pay. That is why the mid-month pay shows up as a deduction on your Leave and Earnings Statement. It is also why sometimes the two paychecks are very different in size. If there is a change between the 7th(ish) and the 23rd(ish), then your end-of-month pay will be smaller or larger based on that change. This includes changes that happened before the 7th but the paperwork didn’t get processed in time.
Looking for information about this payday?
You can find information about the upcoming payday in these articles:
When Is The Next Military Payday?
USAA Military Pay Dates – with Printables
Active Duty Military Paydays – with Printables
Frequently Asked Questions About Military Pay
What days does the military get paid?
Active duty US military members are paid twice a month. Paydays are the 15th of the month and the first of the following month, unless those days fall on a weekend or holiday. Then, payday is on the business day before the weekend and/or holiday.
Does the military get paid early?
Some banks and credit unions will credit military pay prior to the actual payday, as a benefit to their customers. This almost always requires that they have received the pay data from the appropriate agency so that they know what amount will be coming in on the actual payday.
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