The Military Leave And Earnings Statement (LES) is basically a pay stub for military members. It shows the amount of pay, the amount of tax deductions, and your entitlements. It also shows the amount of accrued leave time, any allotments the military member has, and even shows details of the member’s chosen retirement plan. An LES is also a type of proof-of-service, as we’ll discuss in a moment.
The LES is typically used in a variety of ways-a lender will require an LES copy when processing a home loan, you may be required to present one to show proof of your military standing when claiming education benefits while still on active duty, or you may be required to furnish one to an employer if you are a Guard/Reserve Member trying to request a leave of absence in order to respond to a call-to-duty.
But sometimes the LES is not furnished by the military member. This may be true in cases where an LES is required to apply for a home loan in the service member’s absence, or apply for benefits/entitlements on behalf of a service member who isn’t personally able to do so.
There are many scenarios where this may be a factor, but the most common are those where the service member is deployed or there is a medical condition that prevents the member from applying in person.
When using a military member’s LES in this way, a Power of Attorney (POA) may also be required. There are two basic types. One is a “general” POA, which allows the person named in the POA to perform a wide range of legal, financial or medical decisions on someone else’s behalf. The other is a limited POA which only permits the person named to act in ways specifically defined in the legally binding document.
Sometimes a military member has plenty of time to make these arrangements, and other times (such as in the case of a no-notice or limited-notice deployment) there isn’t time to get all the legwork done. A POA may be available, but copies of the LES are not. It falls to the person with the POA to request the member’s LES when needed (assuming the POA allows this in the legally binding language of the document).
There are procedures in place to request a copy of an LES; these procedures vary depending on the branch of service and the date of the LES being requested. For those who are requesting an LES using a Power of Attorney, there may be service-specific requirements for getting the LES. The Defense Finance And Accounting Service official website has information for those seeking copies of an LES, but it may be most helpful to begin with the Finance Office at the base where the military member is currently assigned (not the base the member is deployed to, in cases where there is a Temporary Duty assignment or deployment has occurred).
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News