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Dislocation Allowance (DLA) is a military allowance designed to partially reimburse service members for some of the costs incurred when relocating a household. It is authorized for PCS moves, when ordered to move into military housing for the government’s convenience, and when evacuated from a duty station. The Joint Travel Regulations (JTR), Chapter 5, Part A10 contain many pages talking about DLA, and I’ve provided a pretty thorough summary below.
Am I Eligible for DLA?
DLA is authorized in most Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves. A service member authorized dependent PCS transportation who relocates dependents is authorized DLA at the “with-dependent” rate. A member without dependents, or who does move their dependents, is authorized DLA at the “without-dependent” rate. A member without dependents assigned to government quarters at the new PDS is not authorized DLA.
DLA is ordinarily only available once within a fiscal year, but there are numerous exceptions to this rule. Exceptions include PCS orders for schooling at courses run by the military, evacuations, orders in conjunctions with a base realignment or closure, orders for the service member to go on an Indeterminate Temporary Duty (ITDY), or any other situation in which the military sees fit.
If you move twice due to the revocation, modification, cancellation, or amendment of orders after the PCS move has physically been made, then you will be authorized a second DLA at the Secondary DLA rate, which can be found here.
A Permanant Change of Assignment (PCA) or change of duty station within a geographic area only warrants DLA if the service member requests and is granted a short-distance movement of Household Goods (HHG.)
Check out my Pinterest Board: PCS Resources/Military Moving!
In What Situations is DLA Not Authorized?
Single service members who occupy government quarters after their PCS move are not authorized DLA.
Service members otherwise eligible for “with-dependents” DLA will not receive it if they do not move their dependents and they occupy government quarters.
You will not be authorized DLA for moves after separation or retirement.
DLA is not authorized for moves within government-owned or privatized housing due to a change in family size or the service member’s promotion.
DLA is not authorized if the move is due to divorce or the service member’s misconduct.
Reservists activated to active duty are not generally authorized DLA unless they are activated for more than 20 consecutive weeks at a single location, and are authorized and complete a PCS move.
How Much DLA Will I Receive?
The allowance is based upon rank and dependency status. Here are the 2021 rates:
2021 Dislocation Allowance Rates With Dependents
Rank DLA Amount
E-1 through E-5 $2,407.52
O-2 $2, 815.45
O-7 through O-10 $5,209.17
The rates are a little bit lower for those without dependents.
2021 Without-Dependents Rate
2021 Dislocation Allowance Rates Without Dependents
|O-7 through O-10||$4,231.68|
(Verify my numbers here; typos happen!)
If you’re traveling near the end or beginning of the calendar year, be aware that you will receive the rate for the PCS travel order effective date. The rates typically change on 1 January of each year. You can learn more about this in Appendix A1 of the JTR.
How Do I Get DLA?
DLA must be requested, or it will not be paid. DLA can be requested in advance, on your pre-PCS paperwork, or in arrears, on your travel claim. I have not seen every type of paperwork, but the types I have seen have a check-block for DLA.
As the services gradually move to an all-government travel credit card system, the way DLA is being paid is changing. Advance DLA may not be available if you have the use of a government travel credit card for your PCS expenses. During this time of transition, you need to ask a lot of questions of your payroll folks to ensure that everything is being paid properly.
When Will I Receive The DLA Payment?
The JTR authorizes the payment of DLA in advance of your move. This would be requested on your pre-PCS paperwork. However, many readers are reporting that with the move to using government travel credit cards for PCS moving expenses, they are not receiving DLA advances. What makes it even more frustrating is that different people are having different experiences, so there’s no “normal” right now.
If you do not receive a DLA advance, then you can request DLA on your travel claim. The payment will be made into the same account that you have designated for your regular pay.
Often, DLA is paid in conjunction with other PCS entitlements such as TLE and/or TLA, or MALT. It can be confusing to keep them straight. You can use my PCS entitlement tracker to figure out what you’ve been paid and what you are still expecting to receive.
What Uses are Permitted For DLA?
DLA is not designated for any purpose. While it is designed to cover the costs associated with moving, there is no requirement to account for your spending, or to use it for anything in particular. I usually try to put as much as possible into savings, though I know that I end up spending it somewhere because moving creates so many little expenses.
What If I Don’t Move At The Same Time, Or To The Same Place, As My Family?
If dependents are authorized a move, but do not physically move, the service member is eligible for DLA at the “without-dependents” rate. If the family subsequently moves to join the service member, the service member may be eligible to receive the difference between the “with-dependents” and “without-dependents” rate.
If PCS orders authorize the movement of the family to a “designated place,” such as when a service member has orders to a location that does not permit dependents, then DLA is payable for that move.
What About Dual Military Couples?
There is a whole chart about DLA and dual military couples. You will find it in the JTR, Table U5G-3. Here’s a quick summary of the most common scenarios:
- Dual military, move from the same Permanent Duty Station (PDS) to the same PDS: One DLA, either with or without dependents, at the higher of the two available rates.
- Dual military, no dependents, move from the same PDS to different PDS, or from different PDS to the same PDS, or from different PDS to different PDS: each member is authorized their respective DLA, with- or without-dependents, as appropriate.
If you are ordered to occupy or vacate family-type government quarters (not privatized housing) due to privatization, renovation, or any other reason that is the government’s convenience and NOT a PCS move, a partial DLA ($718.08 in 2016) may be paid.
DLA is one of the most-frequently unclaimed PCS moving allowances, and it is a significant amount of money. Everything you have read here comes directly from the Joint Travel Regulations. If you have further questions, please let me know and I’ll find the answers.
Have more questions? Check out my Dislocation Allowance Frequently Asked Questions.
Wondering how you’ll pay for your security deposit without advance DLA? Look into Advance BAH.
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