Planning for out-of-pocket PCS costs

PIGToday I’m excited to have a guest post from a former Soldier, Spc. Latoya Dallas, who served as a journalist at the garrison here. Latoya’s final project was to uncover all the financial resources available to Soldiers and families. During that time, Latoya was also preparing to get out of the Army. So her blog post comes to us as she was experiencing it –a Soldier’s first-hand account.

If you’re like me, you’ve received your PCS orders and your planning is full swing: appointment with the movers made, research done on your new duty station, command sponsorship approved, flight arrangements for you and your pet confirmed.  Everything appears to be running smoothly.  But what about those hidden out-of-pocket costs that seem to sneak up and take you by surprise?  Haven’t planned for those?  Then you are not alone.

According to Military.com, service members and their families are paying on average $1,725 worth of expenses themselves. And these are not reimbursable expenses.  These include, but are not limited to

  • Eating Out while sans house and kitchen
  • Insurance Costs
  • Vehicle Rental while your POV is being shipped (and the cost associated with shipping more than one car)
  • Security Deposits on your new home
  • Pet Travel expenses
  • Fees associated with obtaining travel documents for family members (Visa and Passports)
  • Temporary loss of income that your spouse may incur as he/she finds a job at your new location.

It’s a 100% guarantee that you will move while in the Army. While you can begin saving money each month for your next move, for some of you this PCS is happening sooner than anticipated. So how can you lessen the shock of these fees

According to Christine Goessmann of the USAG Schweinfurt Financial Services, every time you PCS, you are authorized advanced pay—or a PCS Advance—to help offset these out-of-pocket expenses.

Building 40

PCS advances are processed at Building 40 on Conn Barracks

Thirty days prior to your departure date, just walk into Building 40 with a complete set of your orders [with amendments] and an approved DA Form 31 [Request and Authority for Leave] to request this no-interest loan.

Since a PCS Advance is processed at Building 40, you can expect the money to show up in your bank account in two to three days.

Some things to consider

  • A PCS Advance will pay out one month of your base pay less the deductions [i.e. taxes, social security, garnishments, insurances, etc.]
  • You will have to repay the advance back as a deduction taken directly from you over a 12-month period.
  • Soldiers in the Pay Grade E-3 and below have to get their unit commander’s blessing.

An advance can also be requested at your next duty station.  If you plan on getting a second advance pay once you arrive at your new duty station, please find out the details at your gaining station.

There may be another option. However, this option is for those Service Members with dependents listed on the sponsor’s orders. It is called an Advance Dislocation Allowance [ADA], which partially reimburses you some of the expenses, and this doesn’t have to be paid back.

If you meet the criteria of an ADA and are interested in requesting one, just go to Building 40 ten business days from your Final Out with a complete set of your orders [with amendments], a flight itinerary for yourself and your dependents, and an approved DA Form 31.

  • Although ADA is an entitlement, not everybody is authorized Dislocation Allowance [DLA] and not everybody that is authorized DLA is authorized to get an advance.

So, know that there are options. Talk to the Finance Services at Building 40. They want to assist you.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us Latoya!

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