Military Per Diem Rates Are About to Go Up

(U.S. Air Force/Kedesha Pennant)
(U.S. Air Force/Kedesha Pennant)

The Defense Department has announced that per diem rates for military travel will increase for fiscal 2020, which runs from Oct. 1, 2019, to Sept. 30, 2020.

The standard per diem will increase to $151, effective Oct. 1, 2019. Currently, it is $149. The maximum lodging amount that most travelers can be reimbursed for official travel will see an increase from $94 to $96.

Per diem is a daily payment to reimburse you for the out-of-pocket costs for food, lodging and incidental expenses you incur during a permanent change of station (PCS) or while on temporary duty.

Per diem rates limit how much you can be reimbursed for meals and lodging. The per diem rate is also used to determine the Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE) rate.

Per diem is broken down into three categories:

  1. Meals
  2. Lodging
  3. Incidental Expenses

When you travel, you get reimbursed the meal and incidentals portion of per diem automatically. To be reimbursed for your lodging, you must submit receipts showing the lodging's actual cost.

For travel to most locations in the continental United States, you are reimbursed based on the standard per diem rates. If your lodging costs less than the maximum amount of $96, you will be reimbursed only the actual cost; if it costs more, you have to pay the difference out-of-pocket.

The meals portion of standard per diem will remain at $55; the incidental expense portion will remain at $5.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule: It's nearly impossible to find a hotel in any major city for $96, so there are several "high-cost" areas that have higher limits for lodging. These areas may have higher reimbursement for meals as well.

Also, some areas have higher per diem rates during tourist season, when prices go up. However, for most of the U.S., standard per diem rates apply.

If you are traveling outside of the continental U.S., your per diem rates could change on a monthly basis due to fluctuations in exchange rates, as well as other factors.

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