Although many “household goods” moves occur without incident every day, unfortunately, some Servicemembers experience lost or damaged goods during their moves and are unsure of the reimbursement process. With PCS season right around the corner, it is important to be aware of the claims process in case the move is not as smooth as it should be.
The Personnel Claims Act
The Military Personnel and Civilian Employees Claims Act, also known as the “Personnel Claims Act,” is the authority for paying claims for loss or damage of personal property incident to service. In essence, it provides a limited substitute for hazard insurance when soldiers or civilians are subjected to unusual risks of loss due to their service. Active duty Servicemembers; reserve component Servicemembers engaged in active or inactive duty training; civilian employees of the Army, the Army National Guard, and the Department of Defense; and spouses or legal representatives of the categories listed may all file claims through the Personnel Claims Act.
The Personnel Claims Act will cover loses of tangible personal property, payment of reasonable estimate fees after the claimant has paid for them, and payment of fees to replace certain documents if the original or certified copy is lost or destroyed incident to service (marriage certificates, birth certificates, passports). The Personnel Claims Act will not cover loss or damage to real property, intangible property, or incidental expenses not directly connected with the loss of or damage to personal property.
Claims can be filed in various situations such as a theft or damage occurring on-post from an unusual weather occurrence such as extremely high winds or a flood. However, for the vast majority of claimants, these claims mainly apply to household goods that are damaged during a move.
Filing a Household Good Claim
After experiencing lost or damaged goods from a move, the first step is to log onto the move.mil website and file a “Notice of Loss” on the DPS website. When the Notice of Loss is filed on the DPS website, it alerts the Transportation Service Provider (TSP) of the damage and the company will reach out to the claimant to attempt to settle without involving the military. Filing the Notice of Loss Report on DPS does not file the claim itself; however, it puts the TSP on notice that a claimant intends to file a claim within 9 months. Keep in mind that the Notice of Loss must be filed in DPS within 75 days of the date of delivery. Another point worth noting is that a claimant is entitled to Full Replacement Value for lost or damaged items if the claim is filed directly with the TSP within 9 months of delivery.
After working with the TSP on resolving a claim, the TSP might not pay for all of the claimed items, or the TSP and claimant might not agree on an amount to settle the claim. If that happens, claimants should begin working with the nearest Military Claims Office (MCO) to settle their claims. To begin this process, Servicemembers should file through the “PCLAIMS” system found on www.jagcnet.army.mil (click on the “Legal Services” tab at the top, then “File a Personnel Claim” on the left). From there, claimants are able to enter all of the items that were lost or damaged during the move. After filing through PCLAIMS, the nearest MCO should contact the claimant shortly about his or her claim and begin the MCO’s investigation.
To successfully file a claim, a claimant would need to show ownership or possession of the property at the time it was damaged, loss or damage of the property, and the value of the property. This is commonly shown through documentary evidence such as inventory lists during household goods moves, purchase receipts, photographs, and estimates. Claimants are encouraged to provide the itemized spreadsheet of the lost or damaged items found on the DPS website. Estimates are required for repairs over $100.00. Additionally, it is important to save all correspondence with the TSP to show which items they did or did not already pay. Keep in mind that if a TSP has already paid for an item, the MCO will not pay again for the same item. It is also worth noting that unlike filing directly with the TSP, claimants are not automatically entitled to Full Replacement Value of their items when filing with the MCO. Instead, the MCO will calculate reimbursement using a depreciated value found in DA Pam 27-162.
If you have any questions concerning this matter, please call the Claims Office at (760) 380-3614. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 0900 – 1600, Thursdays 1300 – 1600. The Fort Irwin Claims Office is located on C Avenue in Building 230.