What Is an Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA)?

Definition & Examples of an OHA

Military woman putting on fatigues in her house
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The Overseas Housing Allowance is a reimbursement program for U.S. military officers stationed overseas. Officers who do not have on-base housing available can apply to have a portion of their housing costs defrayed.

Active duty members who are stationed overseas outside the U.S. and are authorized to live off base earn this special housing allowance since they do not receive a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) while stationed overseas. Learn more about how this reimbursement program works and how it differs from the BAH.

What Is the Overseas Housing Allowance?

When military officers and their families are stationed overseas, they may not have the option to stay on base or in other government housing. If that is the case, they can apply for reimbursement through the Overseas Housing Program. The program's Overseas Housing Allowance is designed to cover a portion of the officer's housing expenses.

  • Acronym: OHA

How the OHA Works

Officers who wish to seek reimbursement must fill out DD Form 2367 to apply for funds. The amount for which you're eligible will vary depending on your family size and location. You can estimate your reimbursement online through the Defense Travel Management Office.

There are currently more than 55,000 military members and their families overseas receiving an OHA each year, with a total cost of about $2 billion annually.

Military OHA vs. BAH

Basic Allowance for Housing is a set monthly amount paid to military members who live off base within the United States, and it is prescribed by geographic duty location, pay grade, and the number of dependents. For example, if the set rate for a member is $750 per month, that's what the officer receives no matter how much the member actually pays for rent and utility costs. Sometimes this allowance covers the rent or mortgage payment fully and sometimes it doesn't.

If you're stationed within the U.S., the Department of Defense offers BAH calculator that can help you find basic allowances for housing. Your monthly paycheck may differ significantly depending on location. For instance, living in San Diego, California, or Little Creek, Virginia, can differ by more than $1,000 a month. The good news is that this is not taxable income for the military member. On a military Leave and Earning Statement (LES), there are a series of pays (basic pay, hazardous duty pay, dive pay, jump pay, etc) that are taxable. There are also allowances, such as BAH and OHA, which represent nontaxable income.

OHA, on the other hand, is based in part on the actual cost of rent. For each location, members are assigned a maximum rental cap, which is based on average rental costs for the area, depending on the member's pay grade (the higher the rank, the more expensive housing one is authorized to live in), and whether or not the member is residing with dependents.

In addition to the monthly rental reimbursement up to the amount of the cap, one's OHA payment also includes an allowance for utilities. This amount is based on random surveys of military members in the area and is the same for everyone in the area, regardless of pay grade.

How OHA Is Calculated

The amount a military member receives for housing, utilities, and move-in expenses fluctuates each month due to exchange rates and is reevaluated every six months.

An enlisted member in the pay grade of E-6 with dependents, living off base in Ansbach, Germany, in July 2020 would have a maximum rental cap of 950 euros ($1,112.67 USD) per month. The assigned utilities rate for Germany is 641 euros ($750.76 USD) per month. If the member's rent is 950 euros or greater per month, the member would receive the maximum OHA of 1,591 euros ($1,863.43 USD) per month for rental expenses. However, if this member lives in a residence where the rent is 730 euros per month, the member would only receive 1,371 euros ($1,605.76 USD) per month in OHA.

OHA also includes a one-time move-in housing allowance (MIHA) to cover the costs of a move. For Germany in July 2020, the rate was 576 euros ($674.63 USD). So, in the above example, the member would receive an additional $674.63 in their first month's OHA payment. The MIHA payment addresses three specific needs: one-time rent-related expenses (deposits), security protection of the home, and the initial cost of making a home habitable and secure (various deposits).

Key Takeaways

  • The Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) is a reimbursement program designed to cover a portion of the housing expenses for U.S. officers stationed overseas.
  • Any overseas officer that is unable to live on base or in other government housing can apply for the program.
  • OHA amounts vary based on exchange rates, location, rank, and family size.