With 2019 just around the corner, there will be some changes to some of the military benefits available to those who are or who have served in the military.
Military Benefits Changes for 2019
Here is what you can expect:
The TAP Program
The TAP (Transition Assistance Program) program has been changed so that it will begin a year before separation vs within 90 days of separation.
BAS (Basic Allowance for Subsistence) has a proposed increase of 3.4% for 2019. The National Defense Authorization Act proposes 3.4% every year, but usually ends up with a lot less. For example, in 2018 the rate was only .3% and in 2017 there was no increase.
BAS is used to pay for food for enlisted and officers. It is also intended to help aid in food-related expenses not to cover them all together. The rate increase will take effect on January 1st, 2019.
BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) has a proposed 2.9% increase for 2019 according to the Department of Defence FY2019 Defence Budget. In 2018, there was a .7% increase, and in 2017, the increase was 2.4%.
BAH amounts are based on rank, if the service member has dependents or not, and where the service member lives. The rate is now supposed to cover 95% of housing costs, leaving 5% meant for service members to pay out of pocket. In the past, 99% was assumed to help pay for housing. Not every location will receive an increase. If a service member’s rate for their area goes down, the service member is grandfathered in until they move to a new location or change rank.
The new rate will go into effect on January 1st, 2019 and service members will see the increase in their January 15th, 2019 paycheck.
There will be a 2.6% pay raise for basic pay in 2019. This will go into effect on January 1st, 2019 and service members will see the change in their January 15th, 2019 paycheck. For an example, an 0-5 with 12 years makes $7,691 a month in 2018, and will then make $7,891 a month in 2019. An E-5 with 12 years makes $3,310 in 2018, and would make $3,396 in 2019.
Space-A travel is a way to travel using military flights on a space available basis. Total disabled veterans will be able to use Space-A Travel. Before this change, only military retirees and current service members could use Space-A for traveling.
SGLI is a VA program that provides low cost group life insurance to all military members. SGLI will now be automatically increased to $400,000 if a service member is deployed to a combat zone.
The COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) is set for a 2.8% increase in 2019. This is the largest increase since 2011, when it was 3.6%. Last year’s increase was 2%. COLA increases are based on the inflation measurement period of the 3rd quarter compared to the previous 3rd quarter and tied to CPI (Consumer Price Index.) COLA adjustments are used for different types of benefits that veterans or their families might qualify for.
The following benefits will have updated rates starting December 1st, 2018, and will be reflected on the first paycheck on December 31st, 2018. The exact rates will be released by early December and should be an 2.8% increase over 2018 rates.
VA Disability Rates
The VA Disability Ratesare based on a veteran’s disability rating. A veteran with a spouse with a 30% rating would receive $466.15 a month in 2018, as of December 1, 2018, with the proposed increase of 2.8%, they would receive $479.20 a month.
(Waiting on official updated rates)
Veteran Pension Rates
These rates are for low-income wartime veterans who have at least 90 days of active duty service, with at least one day during a wartime period. These payments are tax-free and based on the veterans status. You can find the updated rate table here.
Survivor Pension Rates
This benefit is a tax-free monetary benefit that is payable to low-income, un-remarried surviving spouses and/or unmarried children of a deceased veteran with wartime service. Using the rate table, the Maximum Annual Pension rate for a veteran with one dependent child is $11,557 for 2018, as of December 1, 2018, the rate is $11,881. You can find the updated rate table here.
The Parents’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
This rate is based on the situation with the parent. This is a tax-free payment for biological, adoptive, and foster parents of a military service member who died in the line of duty or parents of a veteran who died from a service-related injury or disease. For example, for a sole surviving parent un-remarried or remarried living with spouse, with an income not over $800, their monthly rate would be $652 for 2018, and $652 as of December 1, 2018. You can find the updated rate table here.
TRICARE Dental for retirees will be going away in January of 2019 and will be replaced with FEDVIP. This is the same dental insurance used by civil service members and government retirees. Active duty members will have the option of purchasing dental insurance through FEDVIP instead of TRICARE in 2022.
The GI Bill rates are based on academic years, the academic year, 2018-2019 is from August 1, 2018 to July 31st, 2019. A big change with the GI Bill happening in 2019, will be that the rules will change for those who want to transfer their GI Bill. The ability to be able to transfer your Post 911 GI Bill benefits will be limited to service members that have less than 16 years of total active-duty or selected reserve service. This will go into effect on July 12, 2019.
As new information come out about 2019 benefits, this site will be updated.