You’ve heard this story a dozen times: A military family packs up their household goods, moves to a new location, and then spends weeks waiting for TRANSCOM to deliver. Their required delivery date (RDD) comes and goes. The air mattress springs a leak, the paper plates that were meant to last for a few days are long gone, and the bills start adding up.
The bad news is that PCS delays can be frustrating and expensive. The good news for military families is that you can now file an inconvenience claim, a request for monetary reimbursement due to the moving company’s decisions and delays.
What is an inconvenience claim?
Up until this year, most of us were not familiar with the term “inconvenience claim” and how it may relate to our unfortunate moving situation. But with families waiting long past their RDD more often than not, it has become a very popular term.
Because military regulations and the stories we read on Facebook pages don’t always align, we went straight to the source for the official information. TRANSCOM, the U.S. Transportation Command, handles military PCS moves within the US and overseas. We had the opportunity to interview Rick Marsh, Director, Defense Personal Property Program at TRANSCOM.
In short, an inconvenience claim is a payment that reimburses you for any expenses incurred due to packing, pick-up, or delivery delays. You are also entitled to per diem expenses under this claim.
Here is what you need to know about filing an inconvenience claim for a military move:
When can you file an inconvenience claim?
First of all, it’s essential to remember that you must file the inconvenience claim directly with your assigned Transportation Service Provider (TSP). You can, of course, consult your local transportation counseling office for additional information about the process. Your local transportation office can assist if you run into problems with your TSP.
Filing can occur if the TSP misses an agreed pick-up day or delivery day. The dates for any reimbursement (which is not an entitlement) are calculated from the day the delivery was scheduled to be picked up until the day it was actually picked up, and/or from the RDD to the day it was actually delivered.
Of course, there are occasions when a delayed shipment is not eligible for an inconvenience claim, such as claims delayed due to:
- natural disaster
- mob interference
- an act of the public enemy
- acts of the Government
- acts of the public authority
- violent strikes
- and other delays of codes that were caused by the government and not due to the negligence of the TSP
Also, if you are utilizing Temporary Lodging Assistance (TLA), you cannot file an inconvenience claim. There are other stipulations as well. Click here to get a downloadable fact sheet from our friends at Military OneSource.
What happens when you file an inconvenience claim?
After you make a claim with your TSP, U.S. TRANSCOM says, the TSP “has seven days to acknowledge an inconvenience claim and 30 days to pay it.” While this might not be helpful in the short-term, these dates are important. You will also need to track all your receipts, ensuring the dates on those receipts match your claim. Don’t go out shopping the day you file your claim. Give the TSP some time to review your claim. (I know, you don’t want to, but do it anyway).
New regulations allow the customer (i.e. service member/family) to be reimbursed for all days that resulted in a failure to pick up on the agreed dates, and/or deliver on or before the RDD. The payment will include full meals and incidental expense rates (based on the defense travel regulation amounts for per diem) for the affected location of the customer only at 100%. The max amount due to the customer as part of an inconvenience claim payment without receipts is limited to 7 days.
Also keep in mind, “Out of pocket expenses must be reasonable and relate directly to relieving a definite hardship when establishing a household,” according to TRANSCOM. A few things we can all agree are reasonable would be a towel for each person in your family, a shower curtain, or a place setting for each person. But a new dish set with 12 place settings for a family of four? Nope. Not going to fly.
US TRANSCOM is careful not to endorse any stores specifically, but they do give some examples of reasonable stores, which include Walmart, Target, and of course, AAFES. A little bit of moderation and realistic expectation goes a long way here. You don’t NEED a television to survive. You do need a shower curtain.
The fine print
Make sure you read everything very carefully before filing your inconvenience claim!
For instance, here is one line you may have missed: “If the TSP purchase(s) or reimburse(s) the customer for tangible household items such as towels, pots, and pans, the TSP may make arrangements to reclaim those items upon delivery of the customers’ shipment.”
You may be shaking your head saying, “They’ll never do that.” But don’t be so sure. With so many people filing inconvenience claims, these companies may not have another option. And, technically, they bought it, so it is theirs.
If they don’t collect these items, consider making your own “lending locker” and loaning it out to your new neighbors next PCS season.
The bottom line up front
Here’s the important part, says TRANSCOM, “We recommend service members contact the TSP before making any purchases to avoid buying something not covered.” This, of course, is often easier said than done. But, we also know someone, somewhere, tried to work the system into getting a brand new bedroom set instead of an air mattress. Don’t be that person.