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2023 Military Benefits Changes & Updates

Military Benefits Updates and Changes for 2023

Military benefits are updated for 2023 as of the first day of the new year. BAS, BAH, COLA, and other rates are subject to change from year to year. Here are the rates and information for 2023.

Military Pay Raise in 2023

A 4.6% pay raise is in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. It is the largest basic pay increase since 2001, and rising costs/inflation are factors in the 2023 numbers.

This pay raise may not be enough to help some military families keep up with rising food and housing costs.

New Basic Needs Allowance in 2023

The Basic Needs Allowance was created for active-duty service members with dependents who fall below federal poverty guidelines.

This allowance is considered taxable supplemental income and is offered to those who have completed basic training, meet income requirements, and apply for the program.

While DoD literature says the military services will begin screening military members who may qualify, to claim this allowance, you must formally apply.

Where to Apply for the Basic Needs Allowance

This application process is service-level which means your branch of military service will determine how the eligibility screening and application process will work. Contact your unit orderly room or command support staff to learn how to apply for this benefit should you qualify.

How Much is the Basic Needs Allowance?

    • The amount of the Basic Needs Allowance is not standardized.
    • Instead, this supplemental pay is calculated to bring the service member’s gross household income up to an acceptable-to-DoD percentage of Federal Poverty Guidelines which vary according to household size and location in the United States, Alaska, and Hawaii.
    • That percentage was once listed at 130% but may be subject to revision as a result of certain provisions in the 2023 NDAA.

BAH 2023 Rates

BAH is the Basic Allowance for Housing. BAH is based on your rank, dependent status, and geographic location. BAH is intended to cover 95% of your housing costs, and BAH is paid according to your duty station zip code.

The 2023 Basic Allowance for Housing rates increases by an average of 12.1 percent. That is according to the DoD, which notes, “The significant increase in average BAH rates is reflective of the unique market conditions experienced across many locations nationwide over the past year.”

When Does the New BAH Begin?

New BAH rates typically go into effect on January 1st with the changes reflected in the January 15th paycheck.

However, when using these rates for the GI Bill, the housing allowance is updated in September. Use the rates listed by the Department of Veterans Affairs for the Post-9/11 GI Bill to accurately calculate your potential BAH benefit in any given zip code.

You can calculate your BAH at the Defense Travel Management Office’s official site. When looking up BAH rates for the GI Bill, remember that the rate is paid at the equivalent of an E5 at the with-dependent rate for that zip code.

Higher COLA in 2023

There will be an 8.7% cost of living increase in 2023. That is a significant big step up from the past two COLA increases. Military retirees, those who receive VA disability pay, federal retirees, and Social Security recipients all get an 8.7% COLA increase in 2023.

For 2023, retired military members may see an additional $87 per each $1000 of retirement pay. 

That sum may be different for those who opted into a military retirement plan called CSB/REDUX offered starting in 1986. These retirees have a smaller Cost of Living Adjustment worth approximately $77 per $1000 when the new COLA payments begin in 2023.

BAS 2023 Rates

The monthly Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) rates for 2023 are as follows:

  • Officers: $311.68
  • Enlisted: $452.56

Other Military Benefits Coming in 2023

The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act provides some additional new benefits in 2023, including but not limited to the following:

Military Pay and Allowance Benefits:

    • In 2023, a servicemember whose sole dependent dies will “continue to receive Basic Allowance for Housing at the “with dependents” rate for a period up to 365 days after the death of the dependent.
    • 2023 brings increased maximum amounts for bonuses and special pay in critical career fields.
    • There is also more compensation related to military spouse relicensing and business costs arising from a permanent change of station move.

Military Healthcare, Education, and Childcare Benefits Changes in 2023

    • The DoD provides “transitional health care benefits to members of the National Guard who are separated from full-time duty, called or ordered by the President or the Secretary of Defense” for 30 days or longer in response to a national emergency declaration.
    • The NDAA provides up to $20 million for a pilot program designed to promote “the hiring of special education inclusion coordinators in DOD Child Development Centers to provide additional specialized care for special needs dependents.”
    • In 2023 DoD extends a pilot program to expand enrollment eligibility at CONUS elementary and secondary schools.

TRICARE Benefits in 2023

Some newcomers to TRICARE may be confused (at first) by TRICARE’s Group A and Group B options.

  • Group A is for those who signed up before 2018.
  • Group B is for those who signed up on or after Jan. 1, 2018

Knowing whether you are Group A or Group B will help you better understand the information below.

TRICARE Prime Costs for 2023

This section covers:

  • TRICARE Prime
  • TRICARE Prime Overseas
  • TRICARE Prime Remote
  • TRICARE Prime Remote Overseas,
  • US Family Health Plan (USFHP)
  • TRICARE Young Adult Prime plans

There are no annual enrollment fees for active duty service members, active duty family members, and qualifying surviving spouses/children.For retirees, their families, and “most others”:

  • Group A: $351.96 per individual/$703.92 per family
  • Group B: $426 per individual/$852 per family

Covered services for TRICARE Prime Group A and Group B feature no out-of-pocket expenses for active duty service members and families. For retirees and others, Group A and Group B:

  • Preventive Care Visit $0
  • Primary Care Outpatient Visit $24
  • Specialty Care Outpatient Visit $36
  • Urgent Care Center Visit $36
  • Emergency Room Visit $73
  • Inpatient Admission, Network $182

The TRICARE official site advises that when using a TRICARE-authorized provider other than your primary care manager for nonemergency services without a referral, you pay:

  • An annual deductible before TRICARE cost-sharing begins. This deductible is $300 per person and /$600 per family.
  • For TRICARE services beyond the deductible, the patient pays half the TRICARE-allowable charge.
  • TRICARE does not apply these charges to the catastrophic cap.

TRICARE Select Costs 2023

This section covers:

  • TRICARE Select
  • TRICARE Select Overseas
  • TRICARE Reserve Select
  • TRICARE Retired Reserve
  • TRICARE Young Adult Select
  • Continued Health Care Benefit Program

There is no annual enrollment fee for active duty. For retirees, families, and others who may qualify under this section:

  • Group A: $171.96 per individual/$345 per family
  • Group B: $547.92 per individual/$1,095.96 per family

You must spend your annual deductible amount before TRICARE cost-sharing begins, according to TRICARE.mil.

TRICARE Select Deductibles E4s and Below for TRICARE Select

Group A individuals and families TRICARE Deductible equals $50 and $100, respectively. The annual deductible for Group B and TRS members and family members equals $60 and $121, respectively.

TRICARE Select Deductibles E5s and Above for TRICARE Select

Group A individuals and family member deductibles equal $150 and $300, respectively. Group B and TRS individuals and family member deductibles equal $182 and $365, respectively.

TRICARE Select Deductibles for Retirees, Families, TRR members, and Others

  • TRICARE Group A individual and family member deductibles for 2023 equal $150 and $300, respectively.
  • Group B in-network=$182
  • TRS members in-network=$365
  • Out-of-network the fees are $365 and $730, respectively.

TRICARE Premium-Based Plans

Those who have enrolled in TRICARE premium-based plans in 2023 will pay the following fees as applicable, either monthly or quarterly.

Continued Health Care Benefit Program: Member only=$1,654 Member and family=$4,134. This is paid on a quarterly basis. The following are all monthly plans:

  • TRICARE Reserve Select: Member only=$48.47 Member and family=$239.69
  • TRICARE Retired Reserve: Member only=$549.35 Member and family=$1,320.76
  • TRICARE Young Adult Prime: Individual coverage offered at $570
  • TRICARE Young Adult Select: Individual coverage offered at $291

TRICARE Catastrophic Cap in 2023

The catastrophic cap is the maximum amount those enrolled in TRICARE pay out of pocket for covered TRICARE health care services in a given year, excluding fees/premiums where applicable.

When reviewing the information below, know that TRICARE Young Adult catastrophic caps are based on the sponsor’s status but are listed in Group B. The Continued Health Care Benefit Program catastrophic cap also follows Group B.

  • Active duty family members in Group A: $1,000 per family
  • Active duty family members in Group B $1,217 per family
  • Retirees, families, and others in Group A: $3,000/family (Prime) $4,028/family (Select)
  • Retirees, families, and others in Group B: $4,262/family
  • TRS members (Group A or Group B): $1,217/family
  • TRR members (Group A or B): $4262/family

TRICARE Pharmacy Costs in 2023

Active duty military members and families have no costs for military pharmacy needs, though for overseas prescriptions, you may be required to pay first and be reimbursed by TRICARE later.

  • TRICARE Pharmacy home delivery costs and retail network pharmacy costs in 2023 may range from $12 to $68, depending on the circumstances.
  • Using a non-network pharmacy in 2023 may require a 50% cost share for TRICARE Prime.
  •  “All other beneficiaries” pay either $38 or 20% of the total cost of the prescription after the deductible has been paid.





About the author


Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.