By Buddy Blouin
There's a lot of talk about bravery, heroics, and patriotism anytime the military is involved. These components are important and admirable, but beyond this, the U.S. military is also a place of work. Understanding how troops are treated in the workplace and paid for their time is an important administrative aspect of the U.S. military. And for those who enlist or are thinking of enlisting, it's useful to know that not all pay is the same. This is demonstrated through hardship duty pay, which is an additional payment for troops who may apply depending on where they're serving. Learn what it is, how much you could be paid, and more about this unique form of compensation.

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What Is Hardship Duty Pay?

Hardship duty pay (HDP) is compensation for those serving in the U.S. military and enduring subpar living conditions when compared to the continental United States of America. This pay can vary depending on a few different factors. As a result, it comes in varying levels:
  • Military hardship duty pay-location (HDP-L)

    is compensation that is based on service members who are dealing with extraordinarily arduous living conditions, excessive physical hardship, and/or unhealthy conditions due to the location or assignment of the area. Rates can be $50, $100, or $150 per month. For example, hardship duty pay in Iraq is $100, whereas HDP-L is $150 in Ghana.
  • Military hardship duty pay-mission (HDP-M)

    is available to both the enlisted and Officer service members that are operating inside of designated hardship missions. Monthly rates depend on the mission, and in some cases, the individual's performance while working. HDP-M is also somewhat tied to location.
  • Military hardship duty pay-tempo (HDP-T)

    can come about should the Secretaries of the Military Departments establish them when the requirement of a member performing their military duties brings them into environments that qualify as hardship duty. Note: as of this writing, the Military Departments have never put HDP-T programs into use.
HDPs are in place to help compensate military personnel facing additional challenges and difficult scenarios when serving. War is always going to be hard, but there are certain situations when seen fit by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), that additional compensation is warranted. Rates are always subject to change as the DoD allows. This could mean that during times in which troops are lacking access to basic living essentials such as running water, extreme climate conditions, or serving in areas with extreme security risks, rates may go up to compensate.

How Much Is Hardship Duty Pay?

Troops can receive either $50, $100, or $150 per month for their hardship duty pay depending on the QoL (quality of life) conditions surrounding the nature of their service. These rates are standard throughout the U.S. military, so, Army hardship duty pay is the same as other branches and vice versa.

Suggested Read: How Much Is the National Guard Salary?

How Much Is Hardship Duty Pay in Korea?

Since January 1, 2001, hardship duty pay in both the Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) has been a monthly rate of $150. Previously, different rates were applied at Camp Yongin, Gwang Ju AB, and other areas associated with the peninsula, however, this has been discontinued as of February 28, 2022.

How Much Is Hardship Duty Pay in Kuwait?

Since June 1, 2012, troops stationed or operating in Kuwait have been provided with a $50 per month rate for their hardship duty pay. Again, these rates can change depending on any number of qualifying factors as seen fit by the DoD.

Is Hardship Duty Pay Prorated?

No, hardship duty pay is paid at its full monthly rate and is not prorated. There is no reduction each month for those on active duty or those in the Reserves. You are assigned a rate for the period in which your QoL conditions dictate extra compensation.

Is Hardship Duty Pay Taxable?

Yes, hardship duty pay is taxable, but if you are operating in a designated combat zone and receive HDP, you will likely not have to pay taxes. But it’s always important to consult with a licensed, professional tax expert when seeking such financial advice and before making any financial decisions.

Hardship Duty Pay Locations

Hardship duty pay isn’t only based on location but this is a critical factor in many cases. Therefore, it’s important to understand where troops can receive this extra form of compensation, but such parameters are vast and may change over time. Luckily, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) pay table can help you determine how much you can receive and where.

Read Next: Military Taxes Demystified: Preparing to File the Right Way




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