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How Much Do Active Duty Army Make


Lance Corporal Basic Marine Active

How Much does the Army Pay??: Active Duty vs Reserves/ MILITARY PAY

Enlisted Marines can usually earn the promotion to Lance Corporal after nine months of service. Unlike Private and Private First Class rankings, the basic Marine active-duty pay for a Lance Corporal ranking or higher varies based on your number of years of service. As of 2020, the basic Marine active-duty pay for Lance Corporal Marines is:

  • Less than two years of service: $2,042.70 per month or $24,512.40 per year

  • Two years of service: $2,171.10 per month or $26,053.20 per year

  • Three or more years of service: $2,302.80 per month or $27,633.60 per year

Once you have three or more years of service as a Lance Corporal ranking, you will remain at the same basic Marine active-duty pay scale until you advance to the next ranking.

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Comparing E7 Retirement Pay: Active

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Are you considering leaving active duty for the National Guard or Reserves? This article compares each type of retirement at the rank of E-7. Follow these steps and substitute your anticipated retirement rank to see how retirement compares between active duty and the Reserve Component.

Note: This article uses the E-7 pay grade and 2016 pay scales. However, the examples work the same using any pay grade and pay tables from any year. Just follow the steps and plug in your pay grade and current or anticipated pay to understand how to compare active duty retirement pay and Reserve Component retirement pay for the same pay grades.

Is Reserve Retirement The Same As Active Duty Service Retirement

In several ways yes but there are also some significant differences you should know as well.

Reserve retirement uses the same broad principles as the Active Duty system, but instead of basing retirement pay on years of service, Reserve retirement is determined using Retirement Points. A qualifying year is a complete year in which a Soldier has earned a minimum of 50 retirement points.

Members who accumulate 20 or more years of qualifying service are eligible for reserve retirement when they reach age 60. In some cases, retirees may qualify at a younger age.

These are Final Pay Plan and High-36 Month Average Plan are the two non-disability retirement plans currently in effect for qualified reservists.

The Final Pay Plan uses a multiplier percentage that is 2.5% times the years of creditable service. The creditable years of service is determined by the sum of all accumulated reserve points divided by 360. The High-36 retirement plan is the total amount of monthly basic pay the member was entitled to during the members high-36 months divided by 36.

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Incentive Or Special Pay

Pay may also include additional pay for dangerous, highly skilled or undesirable assignments. For example:

Hazardous Duty Pay Special pay for parachutists, diver, demolition experts, and other hazardous duties.

Career Sea Pay A monthly pay based on accrued years of sea duty.

Flight Pay Incentive pay for those in the aviation field or whose jobs require extensive flying.

Hostile Fire Pay Paid to service members who work in an officially declared hostile fire zone .

Thrift Savings Plan Tax Exempt Contributions to a 401 style retirement plan.

Retirement PayRetirement pay for Reservists is not automatic. You must apply for it prior to your 60th birthday, which is the age of eligibility. You will receive an annual retirement points report and will use these point totals to compute your retirement pay. First, divide the total number of points by 360. This figure equals the precise number of years of service for retirement pay computation purposes. Second, multiply the number by .025. Third, apply that percentage times the dollar amount of active duty basic pay for your grade and number of years of service.

Retired pay stops when the service member dies. The only way to pass on part of the retired pay to eligible survivors is to participate in the Survivor’s Benefit Plan.

For more on the above pays, and more, see the Active Duty Pay and Withholdings section.

Basic Allowance For Housing Rates

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is The Military Wallet’s founder. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over six years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the Illinois Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free Personal Capital account here.

Featured In: Ryan’s writing has been featured in the following publications: Forbes,, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, Reserve & National Guard Magazine , Military Influencer Magazine, Cash Money Life, The Military Guide, USAA, Go Banking Rates, and many other publications.

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Enrollment In The Brs Depends On When You Joined The Service

  • If you joined before January 1, 2006, you remained in the legacy retirement system.

  • If you joined the service on or after January 1, 2018, you were automatically enrolled in the BRS.

  • If you joined between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2017, you could stay in the legacy system or enroll in the new one. The last day to enroll in the BRS plan was December 31, 2018.

Hazard Pay And Other Allowances

In addition to imminent danger pay and the tax exclusion, some areas qualify for a special monthly allowance called hardship duty pay. Military members with dependents also receive a Family Separation Allowance of $250 per month any time they are away from their families due to military orders for 30 days or longer.

Finally, members in a combat zone are authorized to deposit up to $10,000 of their pay and allowances into a special savings account that pays a guaranteed 10 percent interest per year.

This program was established during the Vietnam era and then phased out at the end of the Vietnam War. However, it was revived in 1991 during the Gulf War, and the program still exists today.

In addition to the combat zones listed below, personnel stationed in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are eligible to use the tax-free program if they are supporting combat operations in Afghanistan, even though they are not physically in Afghanistan.

Here are the currently designated combat zones- for members of the U.S. military as of 2018.

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Add More Years Of Service

Next, increase the number of years of service you have in the Marines. As long as you hold the ranking of a Lance Corporal or higher, your basic Marine active-duty pay scale will increase as you serve more time in the Marines. Pay increases based on years of service begin after serving at least two years in the Marines and then increase again in your third and fourth year of service.

After four years of service, your basic Marine active-duty pay scale will increase for every two years of additional service. After 20 years of service, your basic Marine active-duty pay scale will continue to increase for every two years of additional service only if you have also earned certain rankings.

Extra Pays And Allowances Help Take Their Salaries A Bit Further

Earning extra money while on Active duty Army

Base pay can seem stingy, especially at the lower ranks where enlisted receive around $20,000 per year.

But troops receive a number of benefits and may qualify for extra allowances.

TRICARE Prime, the military’s primary healthcare package, is free for active duty troops saving them the $6,896 average annual premium for single payers.

When eligible to live off base, service members receive a basic allowance for housing , which increases at each paygrade the exact amount is set based on location and whether the individual has any children. Service members also receive allowances to help cover the cost of food and in expensive duty locations receive a cost of living allowance . Enlisted personnel also receive a stipend to help them pay for their uniforms.

Any portion of a service member’s salary that is labeled as an “allowance” is not taxed by the government, so service members may only have to pay taxes for roughly two-thirds of their salary.

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You May Be Able To Negotiate

When youre in the military, your pay is determined by your rank. In the private sector, however, theres room for negotiation. Knowing how much you need to cover your living expenses with something left over is a good starting point for determining your minimum acceptable salary.

Tip: If your employer wont negotiate on the dollar amount, you may be able to negotiate benefits like vacation time.

Special And Incentive Pay

When service members deploy, they receive additional pays and allowances based on their deployment location, length of deployment, and whether they have a family. Special and Incentive pays include:

  • Family Separation Allowance is paid during extended periods of family separation. FSA is $250 per month.
  • Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger Pay is for service members serving within an officially declared hostile fire/imminent danger zone. The current rate is $225 per month.
  • Hardship Duty Pay comes in three designations.
  • HDP-Location compensates service members assigned to locations outside the continental United States where living conditions are substantially below the standard members serving stateside would endure. Rates are paid in increments of $50, $100, or $150 per month, based on the level of hardship in a
  • HDP-Mission compensates officers and enlisted personnel for performing designated hardship missions.
  • HDP-Tempo involves personnel who are mobilized or deployed for a specified mission. Secretaries of the military departments are authorized to designate such missions, but none have been implemented.
  • Assignment Incentive Pay is a popular program that rewards service members on extended tours or unusual assignments. Personnel can receive from $200 to $3,000 extra per month, depending on the circumstances.
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    Examples Of E7 Retirement Pay

    Consider two 18-year-olds who join the military on the same day.

    The first stays on active duty for 20 full years to retire as an E-7. Theyll base their pension on 2.5% x 20 years = 50% of their High-Three retirement system. Under the current High-Three* rules, their pension would be 50% of the average of the highest 36 months of base pay.

    The second 18-year-old serves eight years on active duty while advancing to the E-6 pay grade, and then separates for a Reserve billet. Over the next 12 years as a drilling Reservist, they complete their weekend a month, two weeks a year of drills and active duty, while also mobilizing for two separate year-long deployments.

    They get promoted to E-7 at about the same career point as their active-duty counterpart. Upon reaching 20 years of total service they request retirement awaiting pay.

    Both E-7s are the same age, the same rank, and subject to the High-Three rules. However, the active-duty E-7 retires and immediately starts drawing a pension. If they retired in 2016 then this calculator sets their pension at $2,171.00/month or $26,052.00/year.

    My Army Benefits provides a calculator to calculate retired pay. The tool is easy to use and produces accurate results.

    Their pension includes annual cost-of-living adjustments that are roughly equivalent to the Consumer Price Index, the governments official measurement of inflation. These COLAs will continue for as long as they draw their pension.

    Tracking Your Pay And Benefits:

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    The military gives service members two forms to track and understand their pay and benefits: Leave The military gives service members two forms to track and understand their pay and benefits: Leave and Earnings Statements and Net Pay Advice . Each form can be viewed or downloaded from your myPay account. You may want to keep a copy of these forms to ensure the accuracy of your pay and benefits.

    Here is the information found on these forms:

    • LES: You should find everything you need to know about your pay and benefits on your LES. It includes your end-of-month pay information, such as gross pay, net pay, state and federal taxes paid, , other pay and benefits Pay, Hazardous Duty Incentives Pay, bonuses, etc.), days of leave, and more.
    • NPA: The NPA provides mid-month pay information.

    Pay Periods: You are paid for the previous work period. You are paid on the 15th for pay due from the first-15th of the month. Your pay on the 1st of the following month is for pay due from the 16th to the end of the month.

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    Basic Pay Chart And Raises

    Basic pay is a service members primary compensation. Two main factors affect where you fall on the basic pay scale: your years of service and your rank, which generally correspond with your military pay grade.

    Basic pay rates are calculated monthly, rather than weekly or bimonthly, and are subject to taxes like civilian pay. And just like salaried civilians in the private sector youre not eligible for overtime pay. Your monthly pay is automatically split in half and distributed twice a month, but if youre in the Army or Air Force, you can opt to receive a monthly lump sum instead.

    Use the military pay charts below for a sample of service members 2021 active-duty pay rates.

    A Sample of Monthly Active-Duty Enlisted Pay Scale for 2021

    Years of Service

    You may be eligible for other allowances depending on your situation, including:

    How Much Do Enlisted Army Soldiers Make


    Potential soldiers can enlist in the army immediately upon high school graduation and begin earning a salary. The amount that an enlisted service member makes depends on the rank of the soldier, as well as how long the soldier has been serving in the Army. In addition to basic monthly pay, a soldier will earn allowances for housing, meals and cost of living, and has the opportunity to earn additional pay in the form of bonuses, special skills and duties allowances and drill training.

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    Va Disability Compensation Benefits

    Veterans who have a service-related injury or illness may be entitled to VA disability compensation. Its a tax-free monthly benefit.

    Visit to learn:

    • Which conditions qualify you for benefits

    • How the claims process works

    Survivors of veterans may receive compensation benefits in certain situations.

    How Do I Calculate My Military Retirement Pay What Is The Average Reserve Retirement Pay

    Active Duty vs Reserve Military: Which one should you join in the U.S Military? #reserve #activeduty

    The Department of Defense uses a multi-step formula to compute retirement pay, so there is no definitive answer when it comes to what the average Reserve retirement pay is.

    A better way to address this question is to look closer at what those steps are and then use your circumstances to come up with a dollar amount that is applicable to you.

    The Retired Pay Formula is determined by multiplying your retired pay base by a service percentage:

    Retired Pay Base x Service Percent Multiplier = Gross Retired Pay

    Gross retired pay is rounded down to the nearest dollar.

    Each year of active duty service is worth 2.5% toward your service percent multiplier. So the longer you stay on active duty, the higher your retirement pay. For example, a retiree with 20 years of service would receive 50% of their base pay .

    A retired reserve member converts points to active service equivalents by dividing those points by 360. For example, 7200 retirement points divided by 360 = 20 years of active duty service .

    For disability retirements, you would receive 2.5% for each year of service, or a disability percentage assigned by the service at the time you retire. In either case, the multiplier is limited to 75 percent by law.

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    When To Expect The First Check

    Members retiring from the National Guard and Reserves dont get their retirement pay instantaneously after retirement they get their first pay at the age of 60.

    Under the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress scaled down the age for receipt of Guard/Reserve retired pay by three months for every 90 days of specified duty performed during any fiscal year after January 28, 2008. Retired pay eligibility age cant be shortened below the age of 50.

    Specified duty includes active duty for deployment to a combat zone and recall to active duty in reply to a national emergency declared by the president or supported by federal funds.

    Guard And Reserve Deployment: Pay Benefits

    Basic Pay: All servicemembers receive basic pay. It is the bulk of their pay, and it is based on rank and length of service. As a member of the Guard or reserve your basic pay is based on your paygrade and the number of drill periods you serve each month. Regular weekend drills are paid on a 2 drill period per day basis. So each full weekend drill is actually worth 4 drill periods. See the Reserve Drill Pay Calculator for more details.

    For training events longer than a weekend, you are given prorated Basic Pay. In addition, when activated Guardsmen and Reservists are paid just like their Active Duty counterparts. See the active duty pay charts for further details.

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