Pay for Air Force Reservists: Common problems, how to avoid them

Counting dollars

Staff Sgt. Monica Ricci, a photojournalist assigned to the 439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs office, counts money December 2, 2017 at her desk. Making sure Airmen are being paid correctly is one of the Financial Management office's functions. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman Hanna Smith)

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. --

How many times have you -- or someone you’ve known -- when your pay didn't appear in your account as expected or appeared as an incorrect amount?

Some people might think military pay is fully automated in this day and age, with no place for error, but these are inaccurate assumptions. Some information does flow from certain systems, but finance staff members perform many updates manually. 

It is critical to understand that some Air Force systems DO NOT talk to each other. If a member changes information in one system such as personnel records or DEERS, it does not necessarily mean that military pay system will also be automatically updated. 

This article focuses on a few recurring questions that should assist our customers in narrowing down where to start checking to help resolve what appears to be a military or travel pay issue.

Airman should use MyPay on DFAS’s web site to update the following information:

Tax withholdings, TSP contributions, changing address and bank account information while in case of significant events in your life, such as marriage, divorce, having a baby, changing state of legal residency, getting on/off long orders, and others. Changes have to be done through the finance office. Keeping this information current is critical in preventing under/over payments, which results in the member incurring a debt.

Milpay and travel are NOT linked together in our office in Bldg. 1800. Updating information on the milpay side is not automatically updating information on the travel side. For filing travel vouchers, Airmen use Defense Travel System or Reserve Travel System -- according to the order. Members that change their addresses and banking information (to include the government travel card) are required to update their profile in DTS. DTS does not update RTS. Airmen should provide this information to the travel pay section so RTS can be updated. It is each Airman’s responsibility to provide timely and proper documentation to the finance office.

Here are some common questions/problems with solutions/next steps one can take to resolve these issues. Please remember this list is not all inclusive. It includes the most frequently asked

Problem: "I was not paid for the last UTA."
Possible cause/solution/next step
-- Not signed in/out of UTAPS. 40A not submitted. Check with UTAPS monitor
-- Confirm 40A provided to FM.
-- Member was paid, but did not notice it. Check MyPay and LESes. Remarks section explains what you were paid for and what amount was transferred to your bank account.
-- In some cases debt could be taken from the pay and received amount is lower than normal.
-- Transaction went through, but money were never deposited to member’s account It could happen when you change your bank account information and close the old one immediately.
-- Or when you change your bank account information and made a typo.
-- In these cases contact Finance office, we will file CMS case and provide you tracking number for the funds. As soon as funds will be returned from your bank, we will submit transaction again.
-- Transaction was inputted, but got rejected. It could be a “bug” in the system. Contact your UTAPS monitor.
-- Member possibly not fully gained yet. In this case transaction simply has to be inputted again.
-- It could be inconsistency with existing file/history. Please contact the finance office.
Member should not being paid for this UTA because:
1) Is in active duty status (on order)
2) Reached maximum allowed number of UTAs for the fiscal year N/A

"I’ve got wrong amount/type of BAH"
Cause/solution/next step
Your address in the system is incorrect

1. Check your LES, 
2. Change your address in MyPay, 
3. Contact Mil Pay for back pay/collections 
Your dependency status in the system is wrong 1. Check your LES. 
2. Provide documentation to Mil Pay: AF form 594 and proof of your dependency status (marriage certificate, birth certificate, adoption decree, divorce decree, etc.) 
Received BAH type II when on long order Admin error/Received BAH partial when on short order Admin error. Please contact mil pay

"I didn't get Family Separation Allowance."
Cause/solution/next step
You aren't qualified.

Qualifying factors:

1) Order 30+ days; 2) have dependent (spouse, child); 3) physically separated from your family 
-- DD Form 1561 may not have been completed during out-processing Submit DD Form 1561 to Mil Pay
-- You have a child as dependent and did not submit supporting documentation You need to provide proof that child lives with you at least 50% of time.
-- You have submitted DD form 1561 and supporting documentation, but some time in past DD form 1561 and supporting documentation has to be submitted every time you are qualified for Family Separation.  

Where is my bonus?
Cause/solution/next step
-- You are not entitled to it. Only members in critical AFSCs could be entitled to bonuses.
-- Bonus request was not submitted to finance office. Contact military personnel flight and ask them to submit bonus request to Finance office. 
-- Bonus request was submitted, was not authorized in the system. Finance would need to initiate a CMS case for you 
-- Processing time Allow 3-4 weeks processing after the due date.

"What is the debt on my LES?" Check your LES Remarks. Explanation is there.
Cause/solution/next step
-- Is it $29? Monthly SGLI for $400k coverage. If you did not perform any duty or were not paid in previous month - $29 debt will appear on your next LES
MOD was not submitted timely and you got overpaid In most cases debt will be suspended for 90 days. FM will then start to collect it in the amount of 2/3 of your pay with every paycheck till it is gone.
-- We are collecting erroneous overpayment. The typically debt collection is when Mil Pay must collect BAH type II back and paying regular BAH (better one). You were paid, but had debt and it took all your pay. Read LES remarks at the bottom of LES. If remarks are not clear, call or stop by mil pay.

"I did not get incentive pay."
Cause/solution/next step
-- Your unit did not submit a request. Contact your unit.

"I was not paid since (XXXX month)."
Cause/Solution/next step
-- You/your supervisor did not certify your short tour order in AROWS Check AROWS for order certification
-- Long tour certified order not submitted to Mil Pay Submit your certified long tour order to Mil Pay
-- You did not submit MOD Submit MOD to Mil Pay
-- The only thing you have submitted to finance office is your travel voucher together with the order. Travel and milpay are two separate entities. You need to submit your completed certified order to both sections.

"My base pay isn’t correct."
Cause/Solution/next step
-- You were promoted, but mil Pay did not receive promotion order

-- Check LES to see what grade is listed there
-- Ask your unit to submit your promotion order to finance.

"I moved and am still paying state taxes."
Cause/solution/next step
-- You changed your address only in MyPay. Mil pay needs a DD form 2058 updating your state of legal residence.  

"When will I get paid?"
-- For UTA weekend 8-10 days after UTA
-- Short tour (less than 30 days) Within 8-10 days after the short tour completion
-- Long tour (30 and more days) On 1st and 15th

"I never received my leave pay."
Cause/solution/next step
-- You have not requested leave Submit AF form 988 (Part I and Part III) to Y drive and inform Finance Office
-- You have not uploaded leave slips to Y drive or hand delivered to Finance Office Submit AF form 988 (Part I and Part III) to Y drive and inform Finance Office

"My travel voucher was kicked back/rejected."
Cause/solution/next step
-- It was not signed. Supporting documentation not submitted with voucher. Mandatory receipts are airline, rental car and lodging, as well as expenses over $75. You submitted it in RTS, when it should be DTS

-- Check your order. Remarks stipulate how you should submit your travel voucher.
-- DTS problems can be resolved through contacting your unit's DTS specialist. If they can’t help – contact DTS at travel pay.

If you happen to have questions about your pay, please, check your LES first. In 90% of cases answer is right there. Second step would be your orderly room and ODTA.

Please keep in mind that most transactions are done by civilians during the week. They have access to all systems and will be able to better assist you.

Contact information:
Reserve Pay Office: Westover ARB, Building 1800.
800 Ellipse Dr., Chicopee, MA, 01022; 1-800-367-1110; Fax 413-557-2948; https://mypay.dfas.mil
Military Pay Office: reservepay@us.af.mil
Chief of Reserve Pay - Thomas Jourdan; thomas.jourdan.1@us.af.mil 413-557-3880, DSN 589-3880
Travel Pay Office: 439travelpay@us.af.mil
Chief of Travel Pay – Jennifer Serricchio; jennifer.serricchio@us.af.mil 413-557-3461, DSN 589-3461

EDITOR’S NOTE: Stuart-Rockefeller is a reservist in the base finance office. She thanks the finance office’s military and civilian leadership for their advice and recommendations during production of this article. The Airmen and civilians include Maj. David Bulman, Chief Master Sgt. Steven Wilkinson, Master Sgt. Christopher Houde, Tom Jourdan and Jennifer Hearn.