Tips on filing PCS claims

As the permanent change of station season draws to a close, you may have unpacked your household items and noticed a few broken or missing items from the move. Unfortunately, it happens.

The military claims system is designed to help Department of Defense personnel recover such losses. It is also designed to ensure that the carrier responsible for the loss and damage is held accountable.

Here’s the process for submitting a claim to a transportation service provider and, if you’re unsatisfied with the transportation service provider‘s offer, how to file a claim with the Military Claims Office in Stuttgart.

When household goods are broken or missing

When the movers make their delivery, try to unpack as much as possible before they leave. If there are damaged or lost items, annotate them on the “Notification of Loss or Damage” form before signing for the delivery.

The movers are always in a hurry to have their documents signed so they can get out — don’t be intimidated. By noting all damaged or lost items, you have provided what is called notice to the transportation service provider, that is, there are damages and you will file a claim.

But for those who don’t fully unpack
everything or don’t discover damage until later, they have 75 days from the date of delivery to file notice by logging into the Defense Personal Property System at List all the damaged or missing items under the “Claims” tab.

It is your duty to prove the claim so take photos of the damage. Make sure the photos are up-close, as well as at a distance so the transportation service provider’s claims adjuster can tell not just what the damage is, but what the damaged item is; details such as brand, model, and purchase year are all important.

If you log into the Defense Personal Property System and can’t find your shipment, contact the Military Claims Office at the Stuttgart Law Center. The staff will assist in manually filing notice of a claim.

Filing the claim

After providing notice, you have nine months from the date of delivery to file a claim. However, do not delay.

Submit the claim through the Defense Personal Property System website by clicking the “Submit Claim” button. You should receive a notification of receipt from the transportation service provider within a few days. However, if you do not, call the Military Claims Office for assistance in figuring out where the claim stands.

Why 75 days and nine months?

Following this timeline makes you eligible to be reimbursed for repair costs, a replacement item of like-kind or quality or full replacement value. On the other hand, failure to follow this timeline may result in a decreased claim pay-out or even a complete denial of the claim. However, claimants who were delayed in filing due to a tour of duty or hospitalization should inquire with the claims office about timeline waivers.

The Military Claims Office

If 30 or more days have passed and the transportation service provider has not been timely in processing a claim or is simply being uncooperative, use the Claims portal of the Defense Personal Property System website to transfer the claim to the Military Claims Office. Click “Transfer to MCO” and notify the claims office that you have transferred the claim.

It’s important to note that the MCO does not pay full replacement value, but rather determines the amount of the claim based on statute and regulation, and applies depreciation. If the recovery team recovers the difference between the full replacement value and what the MCO pays you, the difference will be passed on to you.

Bottom line: Before accepting or refusing an offer from the transportation service provider, check with the Military Claims Office at the Stuttgart Law Center. The staff may be able to assist in determining whether the offer is reasonable or if claimants may be entitled to more.

What about my POV?

The process for claiming damage to a privately owned vehicle is different than the household goods claims process. Upon picking up the vehicle, inspect it on the spot, note any damages on the Vehicle Inspection Form, and point out the damages to the contractor before signing the form. Any damage must be reported the same day that the vehicle is picked up; if not, it is presumed the damage did not happen in transit.

For more information, visit the Stuttgart Law Center on Kelley Barracks.