When a military person or family is executing Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders, there are two similar allowances that help defray the cost of staying in temporary lodging after moving out of your house, and before moving into a new house. The two allowances are slightly different depending on whether you are within the Continental United States (CONUS) or Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS). Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE) is the allowance for lodging within CONUS. Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA) is the allowance for lodging when you are OCONUS. This article will discuss TLA, which is used for the OCONUS portion of any move.
When Is TLA Authorized?
TLA is authorized in a wide variety of situations, the most common being a PCS move from or to a location OCONUS.
When leaving a OCONUS location, the military member is authorized TLA from the date that they vacate government quarters or privately-leased property, typically up to 10 nights of lodging.
When arriving at a OCONUS location, the number of authorized nights is determined by the local installation management team. It may be as little as 10 days or as many as 60 days. You should receive TLA from the time you arrive in country until the day you accept your house and your Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) begins. When leaving, your TLA will not start until you have stopped receiving OHA – you can’t get both for the same day.
Always, always check with your local installation to verify that they do not have a different number of authorized nights, or different regulations. TLA is managed by the installation housing office. They are the right people to answer any and all questions regarding TLA. Do not count on the clerk at your local military lodging to know the regs!
How Much Does TLA Pay?
Calculating your TLA entitlement is often the most confusing part. TLA is calculated based on the local area per diem rates, your family size and composition, your actual lodging expenses, and whether your lodging has kitchen facilities.
I made a worksheet that may help you calculate your allowance.
Here it the PCS Entitlements Worksheet – TLA Worksheet in PDF format.
Here is the PCS Entitlements Worksheet in Microsoft Excel. This also includes worksheets for calculating TLA and keeping track of your PCS allowance deposits. (See the tabs at the bottom.)
You will need to look up the per diem rates for the location at http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/perdiemCalc.cfm.
How to Determine Your Family Size Multiplier
In general, you must first determine what percentage of TLA you are authorized based upon your family size and structure. This is based on how many people are traveling, and if you have more than two people, the ages of the additional travelers.
For a single service member or a single dependent, the family size multiplier is 65%.
For a service member plus one dependent, or two dependents traveling alone, the family size multiplier is 100%.
For each additional traveler under the age of 12, add 25%.
For each additional traveler aged 12 or over, add 35%.
Reimbursed Lodging Expenses
Lodging expenses are reimbursed at the actual rate, up to the per diem cap for your area and family size. Multiply the lodging portion of the per diem rate by your family size multiplier. You will be reimbursed up to this amount for lodging. Any expense over this amount will not be reimbursed.
Meals and Incidental Expenses
The meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) reimbursement amount depends on the local per diem rates and the availability of adequate kitchen facilities in your lodging. Take the local area M&I rate and multiply it by your family size multiplier. That is the M&IE rate if you do not have adequate kitchen facilities. If you do have adequate kitchen facilities, you will receive 50% of the calculated M&IE rate for your location and family size.
Adequate kitchen facilities are defined as:
“The presence of a cook stove, work area (table, counter, etc.), refrigerator, sink, water, table, chairs, and cooking and eating utensils (i.e., all of the foregoing items) is evidence of adequate cooking and eating facilities.”
In most cases, the local housing office knows which area lodging does and does not have adequate kitchen facilities – ask them!
Where Do I Stay?
In general, TLA is designed to be used for lodging in government-run lodging facilities. However, there are many times when these facilities are not available. In this case, a Certificate of Non-Availability will allow you to select other lodging in the vicinity of the Permanent Duty Station (PDS) and be reimbursed up to the full local area per diem amount.
If government lodging is available, but you choose to lodge elsewhere, then you will be reimbursed no more than the rate of the available government lodging.
How Does TLA Get Paid?
TLA is paid by filing a claim for the expenses incurred. You will provide your lodging receipts to substantiate the lodging costs. Payment is then made via direct deposit into your regular pay account. It isn’t always identified well. Some allowances will sometimes show up on the servicemember’s Leave and Earnings Statement, but not all will be well documented. I’ve created a page to keep track of your various PCS allowances, and the deposits that you receive.
When in an extended TLA situation, claims are usually filed for each 10 (or fewer) day period of time. At the end of the first ten days, you will settle up your bill with the lodging and submit your claim. Repeat this process for every 10 day period.
Typically, you are required to actually pay the hotel bill in order to submit your TLA claim. This means that you need savings or available credit to pay the bill. While TLA reimbursement is usually quite fast, sometimes things do take a while.
In some circumstances, advance TLA may be authorized. Be sure to account for that money carefully, as you will be required to substantiate the amount used via a claim at the end of the process.
For more information on TLA, see the Defense Travel TLA Frequently Asked Questions webpage.
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