What to Know About the Basic Needs Allowance for 2024

Updated: November 27, 2023
In this Article

    Military compensation includes cash payments and allowances, and when these are combined, they are known as regular military compensation. These amounts are 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. When it passed, the allowance was designed to assist 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. The current goal of the BNA is to bring households up to 150% of the poverty line.

    Servicemembers must apply for the BNA, and while there is no specific application deadline date, application submission following eligibility notification to service 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. 

    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.

    » MORE: Unleash the Full Potential of Your VA Home Loan Benefits

    2023 and 2024 Basic Needs Allowance 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.  If your income falls below the poverty rates on these charts based on your location, you may be eligible for a BNA.

    Federal Poverty Thresholds for the Continental United States

    Household SizeFederal Poverty Threshold130% of Federal Poverty Threshold
    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

    Federal Poverty Thresholds for Hawaii

    Household SizeFederal Poverty Threshold130% of Federal Poverty Threshold
    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

    Federal Poverty Thresholds for Alaska

    Household SizeFederal Poverty Threshold130% of Federal Poverty Threshold
    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

    How to Apply for the BNA

    Service members must initiate paperwork to apply for the BNA. All branches 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 documentation to prove your gross household income (including your spouse’s paycheck) is below the guideline. 

    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. 

    Services are required to process and adjudicate applications within 30 days of receipt. Retroactive payments prior to application approval are not allowed.

    For More Information

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

    For background information on the BNA, 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.


    Written by Veteran.com Team