How To Read A Military LES

How To Read A Military LES
Figuring Out the LES
The LES (Leave Earnings Statement) is basically his pay stub. He can elect to receive the paper stub or just view it online at You must have his social security number and pin in order to login and see his LES. The site can give you further details about how to get this if you don’t have it.

To me, the way the system works is backwards. On the 15th of the month, the LES has no detail just the amount paid. On the last day of the month is when his LES will have the breakdown of his pay. If his paycheck is the same every month, this is no problem. However, when he is in training, has just arrived at a new base or is deployed, he will rarely get two paychecks that are the same. Sometimes, the amounts vary greatly. You will have no idea what you are getting paid for until the end of the month. One word of advice: If his paycheck suddenly becomes larger, do not spend the money until you know that it is definitely yours to spend. The Army will quickly debit your account when they realize they have made a mistake. In fact they will debit your account to get their money back much quicker than they will credit your account with money they owe you!

On to the LES:

ID Row:

Soldier’s Name, SS#, Grade (Rank), Pay Date, Years of Service, ETS (date his current enlistment will end), Branch, ADSN/DSSN (number used to identify the finance office), Period Covered (period he is being paid for)

Entitlements: his income

Base pay: this is his base pay (which is taxable) and is dependent on his rank. For instance, base pay for E3 is $1,407 (as of September 2004). This pay is generally not taxable if he is deployed (certain circumstances apply)

BAS: Basic allowance for subsistence (food). This is also non taxable.

BAH: Housing allowance (non-taxable). The amount is determined based on dependents and the zip code. Note that whether you are married with no kids or married with ten kids, the BAH remains the same.

Special pay: this could be parachute pay, diving pay, etc. Generally, this pay results from your soldier attending a special training course.

Other entitlements can include hardship pay (common for those stationed in Korea), hazardous duty and imminent danger pay (extra pay when deployed to one of these areas), and family separation allowance (if your solider is away from dependents for thirty days or more).


This includes all deductions from his pay including all federal and state taxes.

SGLI: this is his contribution towards his $250,000 life insurance policy

MGIB: he must pay $100 for the first twelve months in service towards his Montgomery GI Bill

Mid-month pay: on the last paystub of the month, his mid-month pay will show as a deduction.


This column is for any items that are being deducted such as money that is going to a checking/savings account, insurance payments, bonds, etc.


+ Amt Fwd: the amount of any unpaid pay or allowances from the prior LES

+ Tot Ent: the total of all entitlements

- Tot Ded: the total of all deductions

- Tot Allt: total of all allotments

= Net Amt: net amount of his pay

- Cr Fwd: all unpaid pay or allowances due to appear on the next LES

= EOM Pay: amount to be paid at the end of the month

DIEMS: date initially entered military service

RETPLAN: type of retirement plan

Leave Row:

BF Bal: brought forward balance

Ernd: amount of leave earned (in days)

Used: amount of leave used (in days)

Cr Bal: amount of leave available (in days)

ETS Bal: projected leave balance to the member’s ETS

Lv Lost: amount of leave lost

Lv Paid: amount of leave paid to date

Use/Lose: projected number of days that will be lost if not taken

The next three rows are for taxes: Fed Taxes, FICA Taxes, State Taxes:

M/S: Denotes married or single

Ex: Denotes number of exemptions

Pay Data Row:

BAQ Type: type of basic allowance being paid (with dependents or without dependents)

BAQ Depn: type of dependent (i.e. “spouse”)

VHA Zip: the zip code used to compute BAH (or BAQ)

Rent Amt: amount of rent paid (if applicable)

Share: number of people the soldier shares housing costs with

Stat: VHA status – accompanies or unaccompanied

JFTR, Depns, 2nd JFTR: for COLA purposes

BAS Type: type of rations the soldier is receiving

Charity Type: amount of charitable contributions

TPC: this field is not used

PACIDN: active unit identification code (UIC)

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Row:

Base Pay Rate: amount elected for TSP

Base Pay Current: reserved for future use

Spec Pay Rate: percentage of special pay elected for TSP

Spec Pay Current: reserved for future use

Inc Pay Rate: percentage of incentive pay elected for TSP

Inc Pay Current: reserved for future use

Bonus Pay Rate: percentage of bonus pay elected for TSP

Bonus Pay Current: reserved for future use

TSP YTD Deductions: total deductions year to date for TSP

Deferred: total amount deferred for tax purposes

Exempt: total amount exempt for tax purposes

Remarks Section:

YTD Entitle: total of all entitlements in the calendar year

YTD Deduct: total of all deductions in the calendar year

You will then notice a section of remarks that are used to make you aware of general notices.

And that is it! I hope this makes it easier for you to understand your soldier's pay stub each month.

Stacey Abler is an Army Wife and owner of the website,
In addition, she also operates several Cafepress stores - for Army families and for Navy, Marine and Air Force families.

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