PCS Perk: Dislocation Allowance (DLA)

Expenses add up when you move. Dislocation allowance (DLA) is a payment designed to partially reimburse a servicemember for those moving-related expenses. Read on to learn more.
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Dislocation Allowance (DLA)
Table of Contents
  1. What is DLA?
  2. Who is Eligible for DLA?
  3. Ineligible Circumstances
  4. Short-Distance Moves
  5. How Much Will I Receive in DLA?
  6. How Do I Receive DLA?
  7. Do I Have to Pay it Back?
  8. Potential Expenses to Consider: Quarantine or Isolation
    1. Pet Quarantines
    2. Human Quarantines or Isolations

Of the many PCS-related options servicemembers and their families need to know about, Dislocation Allowance (DLA) ranks among the top. When the government tells you to move, no matter how far or for whatever reason, understanding DLA eligibility will help keep more money in your military wallet.

What is DLA?

DLA is an allowance used to partially reimburse a servicemember for expenses related to moving a household. This partial offset may be authorized under the following conditions: 

Unlike other PCS funds, DLA is not…we repeat, not automatically paid, but authorized upon request. 

Who is Eligible for DLA?

  • Reserve or National Guard components entering active duty for greater than 20 weeks at a duty station are authorized PCS allowances and are moving their dependents to a new PDS station. 
  • Servicemembers with dependents. 
  • Servicemembers without dependents if they do not occupy government quarters at the new PDS location.

Ineligible Circumstances

Servicemembers are not eligible for DLA when moving from their home of record or location at which they entered service unless dependents are accompanying. 

Servicemembers are not eligible for DLA when separating from service in a Permanent Duty Station (PDS) situation. 

Servicemembers without dependents are assigned to government quarters at the new PDS. This provision includes assignments to ships. 

See everything you need to know about transitioning out of the military. 

Any moves after separation or retirement are not eligible for DLA. 

Short-Distance Moves

If a short distance move is requested for the convenience of the government under a circumstance such as the current residence not meeting health or safety standards, DLA may be authorized. It is not authorized in the case of relocating on or off post if it is not requested or directed at the government’s convenience. 

How Much Will I Receive in DLA?

Good question.

DLA payments are categorized in three ways:

  • Primary 
  • Secondary; or 
  • Partial 

and are dependent upon the circumstances of your move. Unless an exemption is authorized, only one DLA allotment is permissible in a single fiscal year.

The exact amount of DLA depends upon a servicemember’s rank and dependency status. As shown in the table, DLA amounts are categorized as a “with” or “without” dependent rate similar to the military pay chart designations. In general, reimbursement falls in the primary category for PCS moves. 

When changes such as modifications, cancellations, or amendments are made to a PCS after the first move has already been executed, members may qualify for secondary DLA rates. Another example of a scenario prompting secondary allotment may be accepted into special programs which are longer than 20 weeks in duration. 

Partial DLA rates can be found here

How Do I Receive DLA?

Servicemembers MUST file a claim for DLA, or the allotment will go unclaimed. 

Joint Travel Regulation authorizes DLA in advance of your move at a rate of 80%, with the remainder paid after the claim is filed. DLA may also be requested after the move when finalizing paperwork. 

The Army filing procedure states—

“To request a DLA advance, Soldiers need to fill out the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Form 9114. Or, they can receive the DLA after their move is completed when their fill out their Defense Department Form 1351-2 travel voucher.”

It is important to note that the Department of Defense requires authorized PCS-related expenses to be charged to the Service member’s Government Travel Charge Card (GTCC).   

GTCC how-to for Marines

GTCC statement for the Navy.  

The GTCC is now considered the standard for all DoD personnel for moving expenses. Utilizing the card often allows military members to avoid upfront costs involved with PCS, TDY, or other government travel situations. This becomes especially helpful if members opt to request DLA post PCS rather than upfront. 

It is critical, however, that servicemembers connect with the on-post travel authority and/or command to understand the expectations involved. For example, servicemembers will be expected to make payments due on the card even if travel expenses have not yet been paid. 

Do I Have to Pay it Back?

No, DLA is a flat rate that does not have to be paid back. While certainly helpful, DLA may not and is, in fact, not designed to cover all moving-related expenses. 

Potential Expenses to Consider: Quarantine or Isolation

Historically, moving-related quarantine events were largely related to the mandatory quarantining of pets for a PCS. However, times have shown that mandatory quarantines of servicemembers or servicemember families are an expense the community now needs to consider. See section 050106

Pet Quarantines

Eligibility extends only to the mandatory quarantine of a household pet, and only for a cat or dog. Transportation-related expenses are not covered. Maximum reimbursement is capped at $550 per PCS.

Human Quarantines or Isolations

An understanding of the exact requirements of quarantine or isolation is key. Is a quarantine required before signing out or only upon arrival to your next destination? Does the facility provide in-kind meals? 

An up-to-date list of COVID-19 related questions and answers from the DoD can be found here.  

No matter what category your military move falls under, taking full advantage of the services and options offered is the smart play.

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About Samantha Peterson

Samantha Peterson is a regular contributor for military publications such as The Military Wallet, Military Families Magazine, We Are The Mighty and more. She feels passionately about telling compelling stories and crafting captivating narratives. Living life one PCS at a time, she's travel schooling her children while tackling careers in the nonprofit and environmental sector all as military life allows.

Featured In: Samantha's writing has been featured in We Are The Mighty, Military Families Magazine, InDependent, Reserve + National Guard Magazine, and other publications.

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