When Do Military Benefits Start?

soldier taking daughter for a walk

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Deciding to join the military, to serve and protect your country, is a great act of bravery, commitment, and sacrifice. It’s a decision that could even involve putting your life on the line.

At the very least, it will involve putting life as you knew it, on hold for a few years.

The U.S. Armed Services all recognize how much each soldier, airman, sailor, and Marine gives to their service, and they understand the importance of making that commitment worth it.

If you’ve talked to a recruiter at any point, then you’ve already heard about some generous military benefits that rival or surpass anything you’d find offered by companies in the civilian world. And like any benefits package, they’re generous by design.

Sure – those benefits serve as a recruitment and retention tool. But they are also there to take the edge off some of the stress involved in taking care of personal finances, your family, and your future.

In fact, the military goes above and beyond what you would find in almost any other job when it comes to education benefits for you, your spouse, and dependents, ensuring everyone impacted by military life has the support they need.

When Do Dental and Health Insurance Benefits Start?

Your dental and health insurance coverage starts on the first day of the next month after enlisting, just so long as your coverage request form has been received or postmarked by the 20th of the current month.

If you enroll after the 20th, your coverage will start the first day of the second month.

When Do I Get My Enlistment Bonus (EB)?

All enlistment and reenlistment bonuses are paid after completing your training or after 30 days, whichever comes later.

Upon enlisting or reenlisting in the Army, new recruits signed up for specific high-needs Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), are eligible for cash incentives of up to $50,000 for active duty members and $20,000 for the reservists.

Rather than being a lump-sum payment, you can expect it to pay out in installments about every 90 days.

When Do Basic Allowances Start?

Once you have been assigned your permanent duty assignment (typically 30 days after beginning your service training), you are eligible for Military Basic Allowance Compensation programs, which include:

If you choose to live on base, free dining service and housing is provided immediately. If you choose to live off base, a tax-free housing allowance is provided. The Basic Housing Allowance varies by grade and dependency status, ranging from $74 to $168 a month.

When Do VA Home Loan Assistance Benefits Start?

If you are hoping to buy a house, you are eligible for VA loan assistance after 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime or 181 days of active service during peacetime.

Also, if you served 6+ years in the National Guard or Reserves, you are eligible for a VA loan.

When Does My Paid Leave Start Accruing?

From the moment you join the military, you begin earning paid leave. For every month of military service, you earn 2.5 days of leave, and it never stops accruing! However, the most you can carry over from one year to the next is 60 days, minus very special, very limited situations.

When Do College Educational Benefits Start?

After your initial training period and upon being assigned to your permanent duty station (typically 30 days after beginning your service training), you can begin accessing Military Tuition Assistance (TA) benefits worth a total of $4,500 per year.

After 90 days of service you start accruing GI Bill® benefits. If the cost of your schooling exceeds the $4,500 you get through TA, you can begin drawing on your GI Bill® benefits through the Top-Up Program. There’s a limit, though. While full eligibility for the GI Bill® pays more than $26,000 annually toward a college degree, the Top-Up program is capped at just $4,500 per year. This is generally enough for part time students in the service.

You need to serve for at least 36 months to be eligible for full GI Bill® benefits. Service periods of less than 36 months will prorate your education benefits:

When Can I Access Relocation Benefits?

As an active duty soldier, if your military service requires you to move, the military will pay for your travel and other moving expenses. All service members qualify for this benefit upon being assigned a permanent duty station, typically 30 days after beginning service training.

 If you choose to use a government-provided moving company, they will even pack up your belongings for you.

When Do “Space Available” Benefits Start for Free Flights?

All service members qualify for this benefit upon being assigned a permanent duty station, typically 30 days after beginning service training.

Through the “Space available” program, service members are permitted to fly free, almost anywhere in the world, at no cost – just as long as there is space available.

There are also discounts on hotels and airlines, if you need to fly your family or there isn’t free space available. Your status (active duty member vs. DoDDS teacher, for example) as well as your situation (emergency leave vs. ordinary leave) will impact your eligibility and priority.

When Do Tax Assistance Benefits Start?

All service members are eligible for this benefit upon being assigned to a permanent duty station, typically 30 days after beginning service training.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program provides free in-person tax assistance and guidance as you prepare to file and submit your taxes. There are Volunteer Income Tax Assistance locations on and off base throughout the nation and around the world.