Armed Forces News

San Antonio, TX - Nov 2014: A medical support team augmentation class trains on the use of Personal Protective Equipment and proper procedures when working in areas contaminated with the Ebola virus. (US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Westin Warburton)

The Pentagon has identified certain pay and benefits flexibilities available to military commanders that can be used to mitigate risks to personnel and families, while maintaining readiness and carrying out missions in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Guidance from DoD emphasizes that in most cases pay and benefits for military members will continue unaffected.

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* Basic allowance for subsistence: Service members who are housed in government quarters and are subsisted through government-provided meals, and who are not entitled to the meals portion of per diem, are eligible for government-provided meals without charge for as long as their movements are restricted. Additionally, when applicable, they will continue to receive their basic allowance for subsistence (BAS) without seeing any automatic deductions from their monthly pay.

* Inactive duty training (IDT) at alternate place of duty: Commanders can grant exceptions to the policy requiring their charges to attend regularly scheduled unit training periods in person. This applies to conditions in local areas affected by COVID-19. IDT sessions will continue for at least four hours. Not all units, or members of a unit, will be able to work in alternate places. Commanders also can allow telework, as long as it occurs within compliance of regulations.

* Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) coverage for reservists and National Guard members: Reserve component members who are covered by SGLI, Traumatic SGLI, and Family SGLI will not lose coverage while they are not receiving active or inactive duty pay in many cases. Specifically, coverage continues as long as normal premiums are deducted, as a result of the cancelation, suspension, deferral, or excusal of IDT, annual training, active duty for training. Reserve-component members should expect to see premiums deducted in a lump sum once training resumes and they again are in a pay status.

* TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS): Qualified reserve-component members may still purchase coverage. The rule saying TRS premiums cannot be waived remains in effect, because of the requirement that service members pay monthly premiums representing 28 percent of the cost of coverage.

A provision has been made, however, to ensure that coverage continues while reserve-component members are out of work due to pandemic-related layoffs. TRICARE contractors who cannot collect automatic payments from beneficiaries’ bank accounts or credit cards will delay terminating coverage until 90 days after the COVID-19 emergency has ended.

This said, DoD officials are urging beneficiaries to continue to pay their monthly premiums, which will continue to accumulate each month. Failure to do so could result in termination of coverage after the 90-day period following the end of the pandemic. Additionally, TRICARE contractors would be required to recoup missed payments.

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