How to Read a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES): Identification and Entitlements
When I first started reading my leave and earnings statement (LES), it was a little like reading Greek. Now, just remembering how to access a Leave and Earnings Statement is tricky. There is so much information on the statement that it can be hard to pick out the truly necessary information. This is the first of a three-part series all about the information on a LES, how to use it, and what is relevant to daily life.
This is a LES, or at least most of one. There is more writing at the bottom of the form that my screen shot cut off, but it’s just more of the same information contained at the bottom. We’ll be able to work with this. All of this information can be very overwhelming, but we’ll break it down.
This top line of the LES is just the identifier. The pertinent pieces of information are:
- Name (orange box): This is your service member’s name
- Social security number (blue box): The last four of your member’s name will be here
- Grade (pink box): This is your sailor’s rank. It will be E-1 through E9 for enlisted and O-1 through O-9 for commissioned officers
- Pay date: This is the date that your spouse started getting payment from whatever branch of service that they are in.
- Years in Service: This is how many years of service that your spouse has. This is important in determining their base pay, sea pay, and other special pays and allowances. It’s very important that this number is correct. It should correlate with the Pay Date.
- Period Covered: This is the month that the LES is covering. For instance, the example is my husband’s LES for December.
The information in this line may seem like a no-brainer, but keep an eye on it. I’ve had my name wrong, my social wrong (after they changed my name), and other things. Just make sure that they have your name right.
This box is your entitlements box, or the box where they list all of the kinds of pay and allowances you get. For that month we got paid:
- Base pay (red box): This pay is based on your service member’s rank and time of service.
- BAS (yellow box): Basic allowance for subsistence is meant to pay for a service member’s meals. The military agrees to provide room and board for anyone who serves. It is important to note that the service member is the one and the only one that this pay is meant for. You will not get it if the service member has access to a mess hall or a galley. We got it for December.
- BAH (blue box): Basic housing allowance. This is the allowance that the military gives to a member who qualifies to live in off-base housing. Actually, I don’t think I am strictly correct here anymore. People who live in base housing get this now, I think, since the housing has been privatized. Now I think that you qualify for it unless you are supposed to be living on the ship or in the barracks.
- Total (aqua box): This is the total of all your pay and allowances before taxes.
This is just what we were entitled to in the month of December. Pay can fluctuate with the service member’s specialty, location of service (sea duty, deployed, combat zone, ect.), level of education (for instance doctors get paid more), and other things. Because this pay fluctuates sometimes from month to month, it pays to keep an eye on it. There is a good resource for all of the pays and allowances that military members are entitled to here.
The number in the total box is not what you are getting paid. It is the gross payment for services rendered. Your net pay will be given to you after all of the deductions are taken out.
What specific questions do you have? I’d love to know. Please comment below.