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Programs & Services > Allowances > Frequently Asked Questions > Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA)

Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA)
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated: 10/21/10

  1. What is OHA?
  2. How much OHA will I receive when we PCS to my new duty station?
  3. Do I have to apply for OHA?
  4. How do I know how much rent I can afford to pay?
  5. How can I find out what kind of utility bills and "move-in" expenses to expect?
  6. Will OHA cover all my housing costs?
  7. I am planning to take my family overseas with me. Will I receive a housing allowance for them?
  8. Where does the Department of Defense get the information that's used to set the allowances?
  9. I've heard that utility bills are not sent out every month in some places overseas. Is that true?
  10. How often is OHA reviewed?
  11. I'll be paying my housing costs in the local currency, and the value of the dollar seems to change every other day. Is my housing allowance going to keep up with the changes?
  12. I've heard that there is also a cost-of-living allowance, or COLA. Does the amount of OHA I receive affect my COLA?

1. What is OHA?

The Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) is paid to Service members living in private housing at overseas duty stations.

OHA helps offset housing costs, consisting of:

  • Rent
  • Utility and recurring maintenance expenses
  • Move-in housing allowance (MIHA)
    1. MIHA Misc: Up front, lump sum payment covering average move-in costs
    2. MIHA Rent: Acquisition fees, dollar for dollar reimbursement
    3. MIHA Security: High crime/threat areas only as determined by the Department of State

Although there is a separate allowance for rent and utilities, housing allowances appear as a single amount in a pay statement.

2. How much OHA will I receive when we PCS to my new duty station?

To calculate OHA, visit the OHA calculator.

3. Do I have to apply for OHA?

Yes. When you arrive at your duty station, check with the local housing office (or the local commander if there is no housing office) to see what the procedures are for your area. To start your OHA, once you have found housing, take a copy of your lease to the appropriate official and complete DD Form 2367, the Individual Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) Report.

4. How do I know how much rent I can afford to pay?

You can find your maximum rental allowance on the OHA calculator page or ask your housing officer (or the local commander) for your maximum rental allowance. If your rent is below the maximum rental allowance, the amount you actually pay will be used to compute your allowance. If your rent is above the maximum rental allowance, you receive the maximum.

5. How can I find out what kind of utility bills and "move-in" expenses to expect?

You can find your MIHA and utility allowances on the OHA calculator page or ask the housing office. The amount of MIHA paid and the utility allowance were computed based on expenditures reported by members assigned to your duty station. If you know what your allowances are, you should be able to budget for those expenses.

6. Will OHA cover all my housing costs?

Not always, it will if you live in housing that costs at or below your maximum rental allowance amount and if your utility and MIHA expenses are average or below.

7. I am planning to take my family overseas with me. Will I receive a housing allowance for them?

Yes, command sponsorship is no longer required for a Service member to receive OHA for his accompanying family.

8. Where does the Department of Defense get the information that's used to set the allowances?

The information comes from Service members, through the Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS), at each duty station. Rent ceilings are based on actual rents and are set to cover the rent paid by 80 percent of Service members. Utilities and MIHA for each location are based on expenses reported by members receiving OHA. The utility allowance is set to fully cover reported expenses for 80 percent of the members. MIHA/Miscellaneous is based on average reported expenses.

9. I've heard that utility bills are not sent out every month in some places overseas. Is that true?

Yes, in many areas overseas, you may be billed for electricity, gas, etc., only once or twice a year; or you may receive only estimated bills for several months. Some billing cycles cover a 12-month period including peak utility periods. However, you will eventually receive a bill for actual usage. It might exceed the estimate; so it would be wise to set money aside in case you receive a higher than expected bill.

10. How often is OHA reviewed?

OHA is reviewed at least once every 6 months.

11. I'll be paying my housing costs in the local currency, and the value of the dollar seems to change every other day. Is my housing allowance going to keep up with the changes?

Yes, if the maximum rental allowance for your duty station is set in local currency. The Department's Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee closely monitors changes in the exchange rate. They can adjust OHA every payday if necessary to maintain your purchasing power. Of course, it takes a while for the change to show up in your paycheck, just as it takes time to process an allotment change.

12. I've heard that there is also a cost-of-living allowance, or COLA. Does the amount of OHA I receive affect my COLA?

No. OHA and COLA are separate allowances.

 

 

     
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