Military Pay and Benefits: Key Questions and Answers [January 24, 2007]   [open pdf - 128KB]

"In the late 1990s, the military services were facing considerable recruiting and career retention problems. In responding, Congress was mindful of how inadequate pay had contributed to decreased recruit quality in the late 1970s. It authorized larger pay raises, increased special pays and bonuses, provided more recruiting resources, and repealed planned military retired pay reductions for future retirees. The 110th Congress likely will face issues relating to military pay, bonuses and benefits. […] The across-the-board increases in military pay discussed each year relate to military basic pay, which is the one element of military compensation that all military personnel in the same pay grade and with the same number of years of service receive. However, numerous other elements are in the total military compensation 'package.' These other elements are important in determining whether a 'pay gap' exists between military and civilian pay, because the numerous different elements of military pay make it difficult to compare to civilian salaries and other benefits. Since the early 1990s, numerous changes in benefits have greatly favored individual members. These include changes in the cash allowance received by personnel not living in military housing, a major overhaul of military health care, and repeal of military retired pay cuts first enacted in 1986. This report will be updated as needed."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33446
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