What to Know About the Basic Needs Allowance for 2024

Military members and families below certain income thresholds can recieve a Basic Needs Allowance to help boost their income in 2024.
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basic-needs-allowance(U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Thomas Karol)

Military compensation includes cash payments that include basic pay, special and incentive payments and allowances for expenses such as housing and subsistence). The sum of these payments is called regular military compensation and is often used as a benchmark to compare civilian compensation.

Following a report citing low food security among many active and reserve component families, Congress approved a Basic Needs Allowance as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in 2022 for servicemembers with dependents whose gross household income (GHI) is less than 130% of the Department of Health and Human Services’ federal poverty guidelines.

The Fiscal Year 2023 NDAA expanded eligibility for BNA to military families with GHI less than 150% of the federal poverty guideline. In addition, the Secretary of Defense has the authority to grant BNA to families making up to 200% of these guidelines if determined appropriate based on circumstances. The goal of BNA is to bring households up to 150% of the poverty line, meaning the amount of assistance may vary by household size.

There is no specific application deadline date, but submission timelines following eligibility notification to members must be submitted within 60 days of notification. The military services proactively screen service members for eligibility based on service member pay and notify them of their potential eligibility.

Who is Eligible for the BNA?

The Department of Defense uses Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines to determine annual BNA payment thresholds. These federal guidelines vary according to household size and location.

How Much Is the BNA? 

BNA rates vary according to service member income and where they live. Different rates apply to service members living in the continental United States, Alaska, or Hawaii.

For example, if a service member’s income is $500 below 150% of federal poverty guidelines, their BNA would cover that $500 difference.

2023 Poverty Guideline Charts

The federal government’s 2023 poverty guidelines will determine individual allowances.

You can view the 2023 federal poverty guidelines for the 48 contiguous states, with separate charts for Alaska and Hawaii further down the page. 

2023 Federal Poverty Guidelines for the Continental United States

Household SizeFederal Poverty Guideline130% Federal Poverty Guideline
One Person$14,580$18,954
Two People$14,790$24,650
Three People$18,645$31,075
Four People$22,500$37,500
Five People$26,355$43,925
Six People$30,210$50,350
Seven People$34,065$56,775
Eight People$37,920$63,200
Each Additional Person (Over Eight People)$5,140$6,425

2023 Federal Poverty Guidelines for Alaska

Household SizeFederal Poverty Guideline130% Federal Poverty Guideline
One Person$18,210$23,673
Two People$24,640$32,032
Three People$31,070$40,391
Four People$37,500$48,750
Five People$43,930$57,109
Six People$50,360$65,468
Seven People$56,790$73,827
Eight People$63,220$82,186
Each Additional Person (Over Eight People)$6,430$8,359

2023 Federal Poverty Guidelines for Hawaii

Household SizeFederal Poverty Guideline130% Federal Poverty Guideline
One Person$16,770$21,801
Two People$22,680$29,484
Three People$28,590$37,167
Four People$34,500$44,850
Five People$40,410$52,533
Six People$46,320$60,216
Seven People$52,230$67,899
Eight People$58,140$75,582
Each Additional Person (Over Eight People)$5,910$7,683

How to Apply for the BNA

Service members must initiate paperwork to apply for the BNA. 

All branches of service accept applications on a rolling basis with no specific cut-off date in most instances. Service members can obtain assistance from installation financial counselors and installation community and family support services offices when submitting an application.

Here are links to application information by specific branch.

  • Army
  • Marine Corps
  • Navy
  • Air Force – Airmen and Guardians may contact the Total Force Service Center at 210-565-0102 or via myFSS and select “Ask A Question” from the top menu bar.
  • Coast Guard – Contact the Military Pay and Compensation Division by emailing [email protected].

You must provide tax statements and other paperwork to prove your gross household income is below the guidelines. Your gross household income includes income from all sources, including your spouse’s paycheck.

You won’t receive BNA until your branch of service approves your application, and you can only receive BNA from the date the application is approved. Retroactive payments prior to application approval are not authorized.

Receiving a BNA will be effective as of the date the application is approved by their branch of service. Services are required to process and adjudicate applications within 30 days of receipt.

For More Information

You can visit the Office of Financial Readiness information page to get more information.

For background information on the Basic Needs Allowance, check out Department of Defense Instruction 1341.15, “Basic Needs Allowance,” which provides information on the policy, assigns responsibility and describes procedures for determining service member eligibility for the Basic Needs Allowance.

Check Back for Updates!

We’ll publish more details on the BNA application process, income requirements and payment details as they become available. 

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