Get your free Temporary Lodging Expense worksheet here.
When executing Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders, a military member may be authorized allowances for temporary lodging. 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 differ just a bit. When the lodging is located within CONUS, the allowance is called Temporary Lodging Expense, also called Temporary Lodging Entitlement (TLE). When the lodging is located OCONUS, and is occupied in conjunction with PCS orders to or from an OCONUS location, the allowance is called Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA). This article will discuss TLE, which is used for the CONUS portion of any move.
What Does CONUS Stand For, Anyway?
A total aside: There is a ton of debate about the term CONUS – does it mean Continental United States or Contiguous United States? Depending on how you want to read things, they’re both right. Let’s go to the sources:
Per the Financial Management Regulation definitions, they both mean “The 48 contiguous states of the United States and the District of Columbia.” However, the FMR only indicates that Continental United States is abbreviated as CONUS. Correspondingly, the FMR defines Outside of the Continental United States as “The area outside of the 48 states of the United States and the District of Columbia” and indicates that the abbreviation for this concept is OCONUS. There is no FMR entry for Outside the Contiguous United States. The FMR defines Non-Foreign Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS) Area as “The states of AK and HI; the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands; Guam; the U.S. Virgin Islands, and U.S. territories, and possessions (excluding the former Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands, which are foreign areas for JTR purposes.)”
Per the Joint Travel Regulations, there is no entry for the term Contiguous United States. The entry for the term Continental United States says “the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia” and indicates that the abbreviation is CONUS. Outside the Continental United States is defined as “outside the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia” with an abbreviation of OCONUS. There’s also a definition for Non-Foreign OCONUS Area, which “includes the states of Alaska and Hawaii, and U.S. territories and possessions.”
When Is TLE Authorized?
Temporary Lodging Expense is authorized in conjunction with a PCS move. It applies to temporary lodging that is occupied while in CONUS. This applies to moves that are from one CONUS location to a different CONUS location, or moves from CONUS to OCONUS, or from OCONUS to CONUS.
Usually, you are authorized a total of fourteen days TLE when reporting to a new CONUS Permanent Duty Station (PDS). These fourteen days may be divided between your old duty station and your new duty station as best fits your needs. These fourteen days are separate from the days authorized for your actual move.
You are authorized seven days TLE when leaving a CONUS duty station for a PCS move to an OCONUS duty station. In this situation, you may be required to check in to your command in order to begin receiving TLE at your destination.
Always, always check with your local installation to verify their rules. They may have a different number of authorized nights or different requirements. There are some locations where extended TLE is authorized.
Your admin, travel, or finance folks manage TLE. They are the right people to answer any and all questions regarding TLE. Do not count on the clerk at your local military lodging to know the regs!
You are not authorized TLE on a retirement or separation move – only travel entitlements.
How Much Does TLE Pay?
Calculating your TLE entitlement can be a little challenging. TLE is calculated based on the local area per diem rates, your family size and composition, and your actual lodging expenses. In addition, there is a nightly cap of $290 for total TLE reimbursement (both lodging and meals and incidental expenses).
Here’s a worksheet to calculate your TLE: Temporary Lodging Expense Worksheet.
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
First, determine what percentage of TLE you are authorized based on 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, as long as it doesn’t exceed the daily limit. 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. Take the local area M&IE rate and also multiply it by your family size multiplier. That is the M&IE rate. You should receive this rate for every day of TLE. You do not have to submit receipts for the M&IE portion of TLE.
How Does TLE Get Paid?
You must file a claim to have TLE paid. You will provide your lodging receipts to substantiate the lodging costs. If you charged your expenses to your Government Travel Charge Card, then you can direct payment to the card. Otherwise, payment is made via direct deposit into your regular pay account. The deposits usually aren’t identified by which allowance they represent.
Some, but not all, will be accounted for on the servicemember’s Leave and Earnings Statement at the end of the month. I’ve created a simple PCS Allowances Worksheet to keep track of your various PCS allowances, and the deposits that you receive.
However, you are required to actually pay the hotel bill in order to submit your TLE claim. This means that you need savings or available credit to pay the bill. While TLE reimbursement is usually quite fast, sometimes things do take a while. If you have a Government Travel Charge Card, then that’ll fill the need.
For more information on TLE, see the Defense Travel TLE Frequently Asked Questions webpage.
Most importantly, make sure you understand ALL your PCS allowances: Travel Allowances for Military PCS Moves