'Individual Rate Protection,' adopted by Congress at the turn of the century, protects military service members from the widespread BAH rate drops, like the one experienced in 2011.
In 2011 and for the first time since 1998, average BAH rates across the country dropped. The 0.6 percent BAH drop at the beginning of 2011 reflected changes in average rental costs across 366 military housing locations.
However, thanks to Individual Rate Protection, that 2011 BAH rate decline only affected military service members moving to rent-fallen areas after Dec. 31 2010.
Military service members living overseas and off-base remain unaffected by BAH rate changes year to year. The Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA), based on actual rent, is adjusted only when the value of the dollar shifts against the local currency.
Individual Rate Protection also protects Post-9/11 GI Bill recipients whose student monthly stipend is based on BAH rates.
BAH ADJUSTS WITH THE ECONOMY, UNLESS YOU ARE RATE PROTECTED
Individual Rate Protection is a clause recognizing that current BAH recipients agreed on rate terms based on certain conditions, and the terms remain the same. For military service members already living in areas where housing rates are on the decline, monthly BAH rates will not change. New military arrivals will be given BAH rates that reflect the current housing market and lower rent prices.
For example, for 2011, Individual Rate Protection resulted in a 1.1 percent increase in the average military housing allowances for one million BAH recipients, increasing BAH program costs to $19 billion.
A typical junior enlisted military service member with dependents saw BAH rise about $39 per month, while a senior noncommissioned officer with dependents received about the same as 2010.
For 2011, locations with significant rises in BAH rates included China Lake Naval Air Training Center, Calif. (14 percent); Barksdale Air Force Base/Shreveport, La. (9.5 percent); Minot Air Force Base, N.D. (8 percent); Beale Air Force Base, Calif. (7 percent); and Fort Benning, Ga. (6 percent). These locations and dollar amounts change as BAH rates change.