Basic Needs Allowance – What is it?

The Basic Needs Allowance is a monthly allowance for active duty service members with dependents who have completed initial entry training and whose gross household income falls below 150% of federal poverty guidelines.


Q: What is the Basic Needs Allowance?
A: The BNA is a supplemental monthly payment for qualifying service members on active duty, to include Guard and reserve component members on active-duty orders, who have completed initial entry training and have at least one dependent. BNA may help qualifying large military households with low income to better afford basic needs. Service members’ dependent(s) must be registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. The service member’s gross household income from the preceding calendar year and current year’s annualized gross income must fall below 150% of Federal Poverty Guidelines for their assigned duty station location and household size.
Q: How do I know if I qualify for BNA?
A:  Service members will be screened for eligibility by their military service. If found potentially eligible, you will be notified in writing by your military service (this does not mean automatic qualification). You do not need to receive a screening notification and may submit a BNA application in accordance with your service-specific procedures.
Q: How is BNA calculated?
A: When determining BNA eligibility, the applicant’s military service will evaluate whether that service member’s preceding calendar year’s gross household income and current year’s annualized gross household income is less than 150% of the preceding year’s Federal Poverty Guidelines for the service member’s household size and geographic location. The monthly BNA payments are calculated as the difference between 150% of the current year’s federal poverty guidelines minus the preceding year’s gross household income, divided by 12.
Q: How do I apply?
A: Each service will provide instructions regarding the BNA application process. Payments for approved applicants began in January 2023. Additional information on BNA to include contact information for each military service is located here.
Q: How soon will I be paid?
A: BNA is paid on a monthly basis. Although BNA began in January 2023, payments do not begin until after your application is certified for approval by your service and the transaction is transmitted to and processed by your military service’s supporting finance and accounting office. 
Q: Is BNA considered taxable income?
A: BNA is considered taxable income. As a result, a certain amount of the allowance will be withheld from each paycheck for taxes.
Q: Will BNA affect my eligibility for Family Supplemental Subsistence Allowance or government assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children?
A: BNA may affect your eligibility for those programs. Before applying, service members should consider meeting with a personal financial manager or counselor to find out which benefits they may qualify for and determine how BNA may impact eligibility for those programs.
Q: Must I recertify?
A: Service members receiving BNA must reapply each year or when other factors trigger a recertification, such as a change in household size, a PCS to or from Alaska or Hawaii, or an increase in gross household income.
Q: Is this mandatory?
A: BNA is optional and service members may choose not to apply. You may also decline the allowance if you are notified that you have been certified for approval.

Service contact information

Additional Resources and Links

Page updated July 5, 2023