DLA Dislocation Allowance: DLA Rate, Advance, & PCS Guide | Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 78

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Jamie takes it solo in this episode to explain how to get a Dislocation Allowance advance. Jamie recently started a PCS and used his DLA advance to shore up his pre-PCS finances.

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode #78 Links

Outline of Episode:

  • What is DLA or Dislocation Allowance
  • Who is eligible 
  • How to take it as an advance with the current DOD policy

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode #78 Transcript

[00:00:00] Jamie: I just got paid over $4,000 to help prepare our family for our upcoming PCS this summer. This is our Dislocation Allowance, or DLA, paid as an advance and you may be able to get at least $1,600 to help prepare your family financially for your next move. In this episode, I'll share details about the DLA and how getting it early can help protect you from financial stress this PCS season.

On this episode of the Military Money Manual Podcast, it's just me, Jamie, sharing a little update about my recent experience with Dislocation Allowance or DLA.

Spencer Reese, the owner of militarymoneymanual.com will be back with us soon, but we didn't want to delay getting this important information out to you as you prepare for Summer PCS season. Remember, if you're finding value in these podcasts, please take a second to review and rate the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you're listening, you can also subscribe so you never miss a new episode. 

Today we're gonna talk about DLA, what it is, who can get it, how much it is, and how to get it early, and why it's helpful to get it as an advance. 

So first of all, what is DLA? Dislocation Allowance is intended to partially reimburse a service member, whether you have dependents or not, for the expenses incurred in relocating the member's household during a PCS or Permanent Change of Station.

This allowance is in addition to all other allowances or entitlements authorized during a PCS, and may be paid in advance. It probably will not reimburse all of your expenses, but it will definitely help and it's gotten better recently. Effective October of 2022, the DLA was increased for service members in the pay grades of E-1 to E-6, which is great news.

And also DOD policy is now that the payments are automatic for all service members who are eligible. And that it'll be paid automatically one month prior to your move. Now, in my research, I've found that not all services have fully implemented this policy yet, and I'll share a little bit about my experience in a second, but you are able to get it as an advance before your move, and I would recommend doing that to just help alleviate some of that stress that comes with moving season.

The recent policy change makes it clear that everyone should get it ahead of your move. However, your service may not have caught up to it yet, so check with your local finance office or your equivalent personnel in your unit about your branch's specific guidance. The defense.gov gives the latest DOD information to show that it's automatically given to all eligible personnel for a PCS one month prior to your departure date.

However, my personal experience in the last couple weeks has been slightly different. My Air Force Finance office told me that I could request it within 45 days of my projected departure date, which I went ahead and did about 41 days prior to departure. Three business days later, I had a direct deposit for $4,281.

Which is the rate for my pay grade with dependents. So almost $4,300 in advance of the PCS to help alleviate that stress is a no-brainer for me. All I had to do was turn in a copy of my orders to the finance office and I had that direct deposit three days later, about 39 days prior to my projected departure date.

It used to be only 10 days prior to your departure you could request the dislocation allowance as in advance, at least on Air Force policy. So these changes are great for us. From what I found for the Army, it still shows no sooner than 30 days, but the Army policy does not mention it being automatic yet.

The Navy seems to have caught up the fastest as of March, 2023. NPPSC OPS alert 003-23 directs all command pay, and personnel administrators are required to submit the form 1300/1, no less than 60 days prior to the approved PCS transfer date. To allow sufficient processing time of DLA and any other requested advances by the traveling processing center, the TPC will then process DLA in the requested advances on the form 1300/1 within 30 days of the approved PCS date.

So the Navy is saying turn it in within 60 days and we'll process it within 30 days of your departure date. So remember an advance on something like a dislocation allowance is not a debt, it's just an early payment of an allowance you are entitled to. There's virtually no risk in taking it as an advance unless your PCS gets fully canceled or something like that, but what I would personally recommend anyway is that you keep the money and savings in a PCS fund or PCS account and all your PCS expenses come out of the DLA, and that helps while you're waiting to get reimbursement.

It can help with packing supplies, replacing things in your house that don't come with you like the mustard we talked about a few episodes ago. There's just a bunch of random and miscellaneous things that you need to buy at your old or new house. Your rental car if you need one, temporarily, isn't going to be covered.

So dislocation allowance can help with that money. It also can just help bridge the gap on hotels or other expenses while you're waiting for the reimbursements to all come in. And then don't forget, you're also gonna need first month's rent, security deposit, deposit for the internet, deposit for the power company, deposit for the water company, and all those things that come into it.

So in 2023, the minimum amount that any of you will get for an E-1 without dependents is $1,639. So almost any of us could benefit from a $1,600 lump sum, but it goes up. E-4 without dependents is almost $2,100. E-6 with dependents is over $3,100. An O-1E with dependents, for example, is $3,200.

And then you start working up into the field grade officer ranks with dependents and you're talking about $4,300. So almost everyone should be eligible for this. In a few cases, you will not be authorized. DLA is if it's your very first PCS move and you do not have dependents, you're ordered to active duty and you do not have dependent, you're performing a separation or retirement travel, so you don't get it on your PCS out of the military basically. Or you've already received DLA in the same fiscal year, so that'd be a really rare case where you would move twice in one year, but those are some cases where you don't get it. 

And then a few final reminders. It is an allowance, so it's not counted as taxable income. And you can even get partial DLA in some other random scenarios like you're ordered to occupy or vacate government quarters. According to DFAS, If you hold a government travel card or GTC, the credit card must be used for all DLA expenses, but I've never heard of someone buying mustard on their GTC. Just wanted to point that out. That's what DFAS website says. Spencer and I have talked several times before about how you should try to save up 5,000 or $10,000.

To prepare for a PCS and using this dislocation allowance as an advance is a great way to get you pointed in the right direction. Take the time to request a DLA advance if it's not given to you automatically, and use this money to reduce stress as you prepare for your next PCS. I think for example, an E-4 that's single, a $2,100 lump sum payment can make a big difference in helping you get a solid financial footing before uprooting your life again.

Thanks for listening to today's episode. I talked briefly about DLA dislocation allowance and what it is, who's eligible for it, and how to take it as an advance with the current DOD policy. It should be everyone. 

We appreciate all of our listeners. We hope this information has been helpful and appreciate all the five-star reviews you've given us or the times you've shared the podcast with a friend or a coworker.

Don't forget to check out Spencer's book, The Military Money Manual, A Practical Guide to Financial Freedom. It's available on Amazon on shop.militarymoneymanual.com, and it's available on hardcover, paperback, audiobook, and even Kindle formats. I've been giving it to a lot of my students and those that I work with as they complete their training.

I've gotten so much positive feedback about the book and how helpful it is. It's very short, practical, easy to read, but incredibly helpful. And if you're more advanced in your personal finance journey, consider giving some to your troops, to your units bookshelf, give one-take one at your base library or to new soldiers in your team, or a new officer on your team. There are so many good uses for The Military Money Manual book. 

Lastly, if you have any questions or topic ideas, you can always reach out to us at podcast@militarymoneymanual.com or via Instagram @MilitaryMoneyManual. Thanks so much for tuning in to this episode of the Military Money Manual Podcast.

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