Prepare for PCS with smooth move tips

Capt. Robert Jarman
435th Air Base Wing Legal Office

***image1***Relocating to another duty station can sometimes be stressful. For military families, this raises an important question — “What if my property is lost or damaged?” The tips below can help people to safeguard their property and assist them file any damage claims with the government.

Before the move
Document the condition of the property before shipping it. One of the best ways to do this is to take photographs or video of the items. Be sure to hand-carry or mail the pictures or videos rather than pack them with your household goods. Make a list of all high-dollar items, and be sure to include the model and serial number of your electronics. Itemize items such as CDs, DVDs and video games by name.
Jewelry, photo albums or items of sentimental value can be hand carried or mailed to your new duty station. Save the receipts of mailed packages to be reimbursed by the finance office at their gaining base.
For expensive items, people may want to consider purchasing insurance before mailing. Hand-carry money or important papers such as orders, passports, airplane tickets and legal documents.

Moving Day
On moving day, set aside at least one room or a closet that is off-limits to the movers. Use this space to store items that shouldn’t be shipped, such as suitcases, important papers, etc. Do not use the bathroom for this purpose, because the movers may ask to use it. Also, throw out the trash before the movers arrive to ensure the movers don’t ship it.
People who have pets should ask a neighbor to watch them or put them in a kennel. This will prevent them from getting in the way or accidentally being shipped.
As property is packed into boxes, keep an eye on their valuables and ensure the high-dollar items are properly annotated on the inventory. Pay close attention to the condition of the furniture to ensure the packers accurately described the condition of each item.
The inventory may reflect damage that does not exist. Annotate any disagreements in the remarks section at the bottom of the inventory.
Finally, before the movers leave, take one last look around the premises to ensure everything was packed. Also, look for any damage caused by the movers to the quarters. If there is damage to real property, be sure to annotate the information in the presence of the carrier and contact the housing office (base housing) or the landlord (off-base housing).

After the move
As the movers deliver boxes, people should keep a pen and paper handy to make a list of missing or damaged items. The inventory copy is very useful at this point in the move.
Before the packers leave, they will provide a pink form – Department of Defense Form 1840/1840R. If at the time of delivery there is any damage or missing items, annotate the missing items on the form while the carrier is still present. The carrier will take copies of this form and leave at least one copy.
Once the carrier has left, all other exceptions (damaged or missing items) must be annotated on the back of the pink form (1840R). Use plain bond paper to annotate exceptions if you run out of space on the form. People have 70 days from the date of delivery to inspect all of their property, annotate any loss or damage on the 1840R side and turn it in to the claims section of the nearest legal office. Failure to do so may result in denial of payment for those items. After people complete this step, they have two years from the date of delivery to file a formal claim. People can obtain a claims package from the claims division at their new duty station.

In addition to basic pay and Basic Allowance for Housing, there are several allowances paid to servicemembers relocating to stateside assignments.
Below is an overview of some of these allowances. People should consult their local finance office for more specifics and to find out what allowances pertain to their orders and situations.

Per Diem Allowance
Per Diem is paid to reimburse servicemembers for lodging and meals associated with travel to the new duty station.
The government divides the distance between duty stations by 350 to get the allowed number of days. If the remainder is more than 50 miles, an extra day is tacked on.
Per diem rates for car travel are based on a flat $50 rate. For family members over 12 years of age, the rate is $37.50 per day and a flat rate of $25 for those under 12. The total per diem reimbursement is the sum of the allowable per diem for each family member.

Temporary Lodging Expense
Paid for continental U.S. moves only, TLE is designed to help compensate the servicemember for the cost of lodging and meals while the family is staying in temporary lodging. TLE is paid for a maximum of 10 days and is not authorized on a servicemember’s last move.

Dislocation Allowance
Dislocation Allowance is paid to military members to help them pay for all the incidentals of moving, such as paying deposits, connecting utilities, etc. An advance of 100 percent of DLA may be requested.
In the event the servicemember is single or is not moving dependents, the allowance is paid if that servicemember is not assigned government quarters at the new duty station.
DLA is not payable if the member:
• Has been assigned to government quarters at the new duty station without their family members.
• Has been transferred to a nearby station without authorization for a local move of household goods
• Is separating or retiring from the service.

Advance Basic Allowance for Housing
Advance BAH is an advance on monthly pay helping the servicemember pay for off-base rental housing. It is generally limited to three months BAH CONUS.

Advance Pay
Advance pay is simply an interest-free loan using your future military earnings as collateral. Up to three months pay may be authorized and is usually repaid over 12 months. (Courtesy of the 435th Comptroller Squadron)