Moving benefits and allowances Q&A
Some Frequently Asked Questions about moving benefits and allowances:
How can a servicemember learn about his or her moving allowances and which expenses will be covered?
It is very important that a servicemember knows what benefits he or she qualifies for before a move takes place. Even if the servicemember has completed a military move in the past, the benefits can change due to new regulations, the military member's rank, or the number of family members who will be accompanying him or her. The servicemember should always schedule appointments with the Relocation, Transportation and the Finance Offices before making any decisions or plans regarding the move. To access current information on permanent change of station (PCS) allowances and benefits, servicemembers can also visit the Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee website.
After the servicemember understands his or her benefits and allowances, the next step is to make a realistic budget. The Relocation Budget Planner is a downloadable spreadsheet that a military member can use to develop and manage a budget. The spreadsheet is set up to help calculate the difference between expected benefits/allowances and the actual costs associated with the move.
What is Dislocation Allowance (DLA) and what does it cover?
DLA is provided to both single servicemembers and those with dependents to assist in defraying some of the out-of-pocket, miscellaneous costs associated with moving. DLA is calculated based on the military member's rank and dependency status on the date of the permanent change of station (PCS) orders. DLA is not available under the following circumstances:
- when the servicemember's family members do not move to the first duty station
- when the servicemember is assigned to government quarters, without family members, at the new duty station
- when the servicemember is transferred to a nearby duty station, unless a local move of household goods has been pre-authorized
- when the servicemember is separating or retiring from the military
What if a servicemember does not have the financial resources needed to complete a permanent change of station (PCS) move? Is there any way to get paid in advance?
The servicemember may request an advance on mileage, per diem and Disclocation Allowance (DLA). Typically, an advance can be requested by visiting the finance office 10-15 days before signing out of the losing installation. The servicemember will receive 80% of the estimated payment in advance. The remainder will be paid after the servicemember submits a travel voucher at the completion of the move.
It is possible for a servicemember to receive advance pay, but it is subject to approval and is designed to help cover extraordinary PCS expenses. The servicemember must submit a request for advance pay in writing to his or her commanding officer. The commander will approve or deny the request based on whether it meets the guidelines for extraordinary expenses as related to a PCS move. If approved, the military member must sign a statement confirming that the advance pay will be used for the reasons stated in the request. The statement must also include a repayment schedule. Typically the advance pay must be repaid within twelve months, but if there are special circumstances, the commander can approve a repayment schedule of up to twenty-four months. Once approved, the appropriate paperwork is submitted to the Finance Office for payment. Advance pay of Basic Allowance for Housing and Overseas Housing Allowance are also possible, upon approval.
How long will it take to receive DLA and reimbursement for lodging, gas, mileage, and other PCS-related expenses?
Once the military member arrives at the new duty station, he or she can apply for reimbursement through the local Finance Office by submitting the necessary forms and receipts. The servicemember can get the appropriate forms from his or her original Finance Office before the PCS move takes place and can also get help filling out the necessary paperwork. It typically takes about thirty days from the time the paperwork is submitted to receive reimbursement.
What can a servicemember do if, during a move, he or she goes over budget and needs emergency financial assistance?
There are numerous resources available both through the military and within the civilian community that can provide this kind of assistance:
Army Emergency Relief (AER), The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS), and the Air Force Aid Society (AFAS) all offer emergency financial assistance to servicemembers and their families.
Through Army Community Services (ACS), Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS), Navy Fleet and Family Support Services (FFSP), and the Airman and Family Readiness Centers (A&FRC) servicemembers may be able to access an emergency food closet. If this service does not exist on the installation, the programs noted above will be able to refer servicemembers to civilian organizations that provide the same kind of relief and support.
The programs listed above also provide financial counseling or referrals for financial counseling.
The Relocation Assistance Program (RAP) typically has a lending closet through which a family can borrow basic household items until the servicemember's household goods arrive.
Military OneSource can research emergency financial resources within the civilian community that may be able to provide additional assistance to a family. They can typically complete this research within one business day in emergency situations.
What is the Relocation Assistance Program and what services does it provide?
Relocation Assistance Program is a congressionally mandated program designed to eliminate or decrease the stress related to the moving process by helping servicemembers and their families adjust to their new homes as easily and quickly as possible. The Relocation Assistance Programs typically provide the following services:
- information about the destination location before the PCS move occurs, as well as general community information
- comprehensive installation files with articles, contacts, major unit listings and a photo gallery accessed through MilitaryHOMEFRONT
- information on moving costs, housing, child care, spousal employment, and managing the emotional effects of relocation
- relocation counseling on topics including financial management, housing, stress management, and shipment and storage of household goods
- assistance in locating affordable housing in the destination location
- pre-move workshops that provide comprehensive information about military resources, benefits, and allowances
- re-entry workshops for servicemembers transferring from overseas
- newcomer orientations
- welcome packets
- sponsorship training programs
- lending closets
If a servicemember or family member is experiencing stress during the moving process or having problems adjusting after the move, where can he or she go for help?
Moving is always a stressful time, but the effects can vary greatly from person to person. Some adjust quickly, while others can take up to a year to fully adapt to their new environment. Sometimes, stress related to a move can have an impact on a servicemember's ability to fully concentrate on military duties.
Army Community Services (ACS), Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS), Navy Fleet and Family Support Services (FFSP), and the Airman and Family Readiness Centers (A&FRC) can provide servicemembers and family members with the additional support they need during a move. They can evaluate the individual and refer him or her to the most appropriate support services and programs.
Military OneSource also offers short-term counseling to assist servicemembers and their families with every day stressors. They can refer the servicemember or family member for short-term counseling with a civilian provider within the community for up to twelve counseling sessions per person, per issue. For those unable to attend face-to-face counseling, Military OneSource arranges telephone and online consultations. To contact Military OneSource by phone, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, call Stateside at 1-800-342-9647. The Military OneSource website lists specific dialing information for other countries.
How long does it take to receive household goods (HHG) after arriving at a new duty station?
The amount of time varies depending on whether the servicemember is stationed within the United States or overseas, the distance from the former duty station, the time of year, and other related factors. The Transportation Office should be able to let the servicemember know approximately how long the shipment will take so he or she will be able to plan accordingly. Many installations provide lending closets through the Relocation Assistance Program with household appliances and basic furniture that can be borrowed until the household goods arrive.