Our guest is Megan Harless, PCS Reform Advocate

DoD Updates: We have been getting questions about POV claims. If you discover something isn’t working right after you pick up your vehicle, you have up to 7-10 days after pickup to file a claim.

Until the end of the calendar year, PPMs are being reimbursed at 100%. The paperwork may still say 95% because this is a temporary change, but the 100% reimbursement is valid.

What are all the regulations that people need to know about?

There are several PCS regulations you should know about.

DTR PART IV APPENDIX B: This one is called the Tender of Service, and is the contract between your Transportation Service Provider (TSP) and the DoD.

DTR PART IV ATTACHMENT K1: This is referred to as the “It’s Your Move” document. If you have questions about boats, firearms, pro gear, and unique questions about moving, read this.. 

JTR CHAPTER 5: This governs your financial entitlements, per diem, travel, lodging entitlements, what you can be reimbursed for.

Claims Liability Business Rules: This one is all about claims, liability, mold in a shipment, the TSP’s responsibility in picking up damaged items, etc. 

Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO): This is where you find out details about the number of days authorized for your move, the DLA (Dislocation Allowance) for this year or next year, etc. 

One of the most controversial questions is about pro- gear and spouse pro gear. What actually qualifies for pro gear and where do you find the answer?

There are two locations to research Pro Gear, and they reference each other:

DTR PART IV APPENDIX K1 Page 9 – 10

JTR CHAPTER 5, para 054309

The service member’s pro gear is anything military-issued and anything specific to their job or MOS. A mechanic or flight person could have tools count as pro gear. The allowance is up to 2,000 pounds.

Spouse pro gear is more strict. It is defined as related to your job or community involvement. So this could include camping equipment if you are involved in Scouts. If you are a business, you cannot include inventory and things for sale, but you can include raw materials and tools. We get a lot of questions about homeschooling gear. Right now, it is not considered spouse pro gear unless you have a teaching certification. Pro gear is excluded from the overall weight calculations, so they are really cracking down on what is included. We have recommended that homeschool supplies get included, but they are not approved yet.

Everyone has a million plastic totes that we use to store things. What is the rule/regulation regarding the plastic totes?

There are two resources here: DTR PART IV APPENDIX B Page 16-17 and Move.mil (search plastic totes). The moving companies are liable for anything they take possession of. It is at the company’s discretion to verify contents and repack if they deem it necessary. They are liable for it, regardless of who packed it, so they want to limit claims and damage. Move.mil says the same thing. If you use plastic totes, they should not be used for non-temp storage. Everything has to be unpacked and repacked in cardboard boxes for non-temp storage. Those locations aren’t climate controlled and heat can damage the plastic over time. They aren’t as durable as cardboard for stacking. It is better to transition to Tough Boxes instead, because they are stronger and sturdier. It is an investment, but they are less likely to be repacked. 

Lets talk High Value inventory. Some companies give you the form to fill out, others say it’s anything over $1,000. What can actually go on it, and where do I find the list?

You can find it on the Claims Liability Business Rules Page 13. “High value/high risk items may include but is not limited to currency, coins, jewelry, silverware and silver service sets, crystal, figurines, furs, objects of art, computer software programs, manuscripts, comic books, baseball cards, stamps, and other collectable items or rare documents that have a value in excess of $100 per pound. For the purposes of determining the TSP’s liability, all such items shall be deemed to weigh at least one pound. A collection of compact disks (CDs) and digital video disks (DVDs) will not be considered high value/high risk items. However, individual CDs or DVDs with a value in excess of $50 will be considered a high value item.” 

So items that are $100 per pound are the baseline. Generally speaking, if they let you fill out high-value inventory, include anything that is irreplaceable, hard-to-replace, sentimental, sports memorabilia, antiques (get them appraised if possible). Then if something happens, you can base the claim on the appraisal. 

So, if we’re moving from New York to California, how do I find out how many travel days we are authorized? Also, do we get paid for each travel day authorized?

This is on the Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO) website. You are authorized 350 miles per day. Take the total distance, and divide by 350 to find out how many days you are authorized. If the remainder is less than 50, you don’t get an extra day. But if it’s over 50, you will get an extra day. You get a flat rate per diem for travel days, which should include gas, food, and lodging. The service member gets a flat rate, the spouse gets 75% of the service member’s rate, and the kids get 50%. You only get paid for the days you actually use in your authorized travel days. 

We hear a lot about shipments being overweight or close to it, and then emails from DPS with the weight can often be worrisome. Where can we find information about the reweigh process and the rights that we have?

Weighing and reweighing shipment details are in DTR PART IV APPENDIX B Page 9. You should receive a weight entered into DPS with an automatic email generated that reflects that rate. At the bottom, it will say that the weight does not include the exceptions for pro gear (up to 2,000 pounds for service members) or packing materials (10% of your total shipment). Those weights are taken off by DPS. 

You can request a reweigh, but need to do it before your Household Goods are delivered. This year, we have a new change: if you are 10% under or over your weight, it should get flagged for a reweigh automatically. If you request a reweigh (which you can do) then you can request to be present and they will send you a date and address for the weigh station. If you think you have excess packing materials, you can have them load all of the packing materials onto the truck and weigh the truck with it after the unpacking process, and you can use that to demonstrate that the materials were excessive. 

Some families experience their shipments being late and are then authorized an Inconvenience Claim. What is covered in the inconvenience clam, and where do I find that information?

DTR PART IV APPENDIX B Page 11 is where you will find it. If your Required Delivery Date (RDD) is met, you can’t file an inconvenience claim. During peak season, they should have 10 days to deliver your stuff from storage. During non-peak season, it should be delivered within 5 days. You should know what makes you eligible and what doesn’t, so you can work through the expectations. 

This year, there are two ways these claims are paid out. The baseline rate is meals and lodging per diem for the service member only. You don’t need to have receipts and you can go up to 7 days. This is a good option if you were already “house-camping,” not staying at a hotel, and brought an air mattress and towels etc with you already. If you don’t like to house camp and were planning to stay in a hotel, you can look at the list of items and find out what will be reimbursed. It won’t be nice state-of-the-art cooking ware. It will be a basic air mattress and cookware set, one set of towels per person, and that will be claimed through your TSP. You need to save receipts of those items to request reimbursement. The TSP company has the right to pick up those items afterwards. Some companies pick them up and donate to homeless shelters, others don’t, so check with your TSP before giving anything away.

There are always questions about Claims Liability, and what exactly they are to cover. Talk to me about the liability, and then also Replacement vs Repair. 

This information is on the Claims Liability Business Rules Page 4. They are liable for $6 per pound up to $75,000. If a box goes missing, they look at the cubic size of the box from the inventory and figure it on 7 pounds per cubic foot of the box. This is in case you can’t itemize the exact contents of the box. This is why it’s important to keep lists of your box contents, your home library, etc. This will only go up to 12,000 pounds of goods, so if your entire shipment is destroyed, you need to keep a renter’s insurance or personal property insurance carried with you THROUGH your move. Do not cancel them when you move! Those insurance companies may not cover damage, but they will cover loss to fire or mold, after the TSP has paid their share. For some people, $75,000 may cover your entire home and replacing everything, but for other people it won’t, so understand the cap and keep your other insurance. Prior to 2017, the coverage was only up to $4 per pound and $50,000 so it has improved. 

As for Replacement vs Repair, all claims after a PCS are covered at FRV (Full Replacement Value). If a TV is damaged, it doesn’t matter what you originally paid for it. You will be offered what it costs to replace now. Some companies will offer you repair costs. You can take either the repair cost or the repair process. If you use your own person for repairs, get a statement from them first predicting the cost, and submit that quote with your claim. If it goes over, you will be out of pocket. The other option is to ask the TSP to handle the repair for you. You can ask them to help coordinate a repair person and to cover the full cost of repair. 

Antique things can be repaired. Look up an antique furniture restoration company that specializes in these types of items and finishes. Seek those specialists who are certified to do the work, or ask your TSP to recommend a certified restoration company. Repair is usually cheaper than replacing, so the TSP wants to help repair the item. Some things can’t be repaired, so then you will be looking at the appraisal value of your item. It’s worthwhile to have an appraisal, because then they have to offer that value rather than the replacement value of a modern piece of furniture from a basic furniture warehouse. 

Sentimental items are difficult to price. If it is something custom or was made for you, then have it appraised and included in your appraisal process. Ask someone the cost of the materials and to provide a statement what it would cost for them to build or recreate that item for a paying customer. Save that statement, and then you have something to refer to for the essential value.