Skip to main content

PCS Q&A: PCS Damage Claims Explained

by Lizann Lightfoot - August 18th, 2022

Originally produced in 2021. Find the original webinar here.

As soon as you receive hard-copy orders, log onto Military OneSource and set up your move. This gives the transportation office time to plan your move and the moving company as well. 

If you are PCSing OCONUS (moving to an overseas location), check your flight information, especially if you are traveling on the Patriot Express. If pets are traveling, ensure that they are booked through all the way to the destination. We have seen flights delayed and changed due to this reason.

Remember to fill out the Defense Personal Property System (DPS) Customer Satisfaction Survey. It only takes a few minutes and gives TRANSCOM important feedback on your move so they can decide which companies to continue sending contracts to.

If you see things you want to see changed or improved, give your feedback now through Lost During My PCS so we can start planning ahead for next year. 

What are the differences between a quick claim, a regular claim, and an inconvenience claim?

Quick claim is for a minor issue you notice while everything is unloaded. It is up to $500 and is just to cover quick minimal damage. A regular DPS claim is for any household goods that you will file. An inconvenience claim is for unexpected expenses (air mattresses, dining out, kitchen supplies) if your delivery misses its required delivery date (RDD) date and it is the transportation service provider's (TSP) responsibility for the delay.

Quick claims are processed within five days. Regular claims are processed within a 60-day timeframe, both up to and over $1,000. 

What are the criteria for an inconvenience claim?

If the TSP either missed the pickup, missed the delivery date, or missed the agreed-upon delivery date, you qualify for an inconvenience claim. Once you request a delivery from storage, there is a five-day or ten-day window during which they need to deliver (the ten-day is during peak season). You are also eligible for a quicker method to recoup expenses without receipts for reimbursement based on the service member’s per diem. There is a claims form for turning in the receipts.

The service member is the one who should file the inconvenience claim, but the spouse is also allowed to handle it on their own if they are included on the PCS orders. Your claim needs to relate to the destination area, it can’t just be for travel home to family or other locations.

Learn more about filing an inconvenience claim through our Webinar with TRANSCOM, which you can find here.

If a family notices things coming off the truck damaged, what steps should they take during delivery?

There is a joint form called Notice of Loss or Damage at Delivery which gives written notification to both you and the company. If you don’t get that exact form, or you notice damage later, you now have 180 days to file a PCS damage claim. The DPS claim process has changed slightly over the course of the pandemic, so check with the transportation office for updated information.

You can log into DPS to submit a claim form or file the claim report, which serves as your notification.

When I file a military PCS damage claim, what information do I need?

Have your DPS login information, because you need that to file a PCS damage claim. Have your PCS inventory with you to give the item description and number, then provide a requested amount. Submit as much about the item as you can: make, model, age, brand, similar product, etc. If you can provide that info when you file, it will help you get more money faster.

DPS doesn’t always work properly, so it can be a struggle to upload pictures. Sometimes they don’t attach correctly.

Pro tip: Add those pictures into a Word document or Powerpoint, with descriptions underneath each picture. When uploaded this way, it has a better way of sticking to each file and working properly. 

What happens after you file a claim? What is the DPS claim process?

There will be an acknowledgment that they received it. Sometimes the claim is settled right away if you have photos and details. If it doesn’t have that info, someone will reach out asking for photos or asking to set up an inspection to review the damage, which can be done virtually.

DPS will send a letter about what the offer amounts represent. You can also see dollar amounts in DPS. We are responsible for $10 in taxes, but once you show a receipt of purchase, you can be reimbursed for additional taxes. Taxes and shipping can only be reimbursed after you have purchased an item, so email your adjuster the receipt after making a purchase to show the taxes or shipping costs. 

A lot of families struggle over similar items, sale prices, or discounted claims offers. What advice do you have for them?

When I actually talk to someone about their experience, it is usually with the initial offer. This often comes back to not having detailed information about that item, not knowing the brand or true value. Some items like mattresses and TVs are just always listed as being “on sale” because they are marked up to be marked down. The marketplace, like eBay, should only be allowed for collectibles, pianos, etc. They can offer you a replacement value, but you don’t always have to accept that offer.

If you disagree with the initial offer, go back to the TSP and let them review the information and take a look at it. Go through the Dispute Resolution process. Sometimes we just aren’t able to satisfy people. This happens a lot with plasma TVs – the replacement cost now is nowhere near what you initially paid for it because the technology has changed.

If there is an item we can't agree on because of a "sale price," can the customer ask the claims adjuster to order the item on the sale price?

You can ask them to give you the regular item instead of the sale price. You can ask them to order it, and they don’t have to agree to that, but if they don’t agree, you can request the full replacement cost at your destination. 

Let's say a catastrophic loss happens due to a truck fire or some other reason. What is the DPS claim process for catastrophic loss?

A catastrophic claim is when 60% or more of the shipment is lost or completely destroyed. That doesn’t mean damaged, it means completely destroyed. The service member is eligible for a 10% pre-payment towards their claim, which will be deducted from their final claim.

If a shipment is not completely destroyed, it will be delivered to the destination area, but they will get a DPS waiver to handle it outside the system so the claims adjuster can make that filing process a little faster and easier so you don’t have to itemize every fork in a box. If the shipment is damaged, it will still be delivered.

If there is mold, you can refuse delivery, but you can’t refuse an item because it is damaged. An inspector will help take some damaged items during the inspection process. We want to help make the process smoother for the service member, so they don’t have to dispose of every single damaged item. 

What happens once a claim is settled?

Payments are processed within 30 days. The service member needs to accept items in DPS. Let your claims adjuster know when you have accepted an item, because that will help things go faster. If an item is salvaged, DPS needs to schedule a pick-up. Winter can be difficult, and during the summer they are prioritizing deliveries, so salvaged items don’t always get picked up promptly. 

Shipping costs to Alaska or Hawaii cost more, so how are the values determined for replacement items?

We want to find local items that are comparable, so if we have to pay a little more for a local item to save hundreds on shipping costs, then we will do that. 

How long after an RDD (requested delivery date) can we file a loss claim?

Filing the loss claim will depend on whether your shipment is marked as “delivered” or not. But if there is an overflow shipment earmarked for you, then the delivery has to be marked delivered before you can file a loss claim. However, you may be eligible for an inconvenience claim if you don’t have a mattress, pots and pans, etc. You can also notify the chain of command to ask for help.

Talk to your local transportation office and make sure they are aware of any delays or interrupted shipments. 

What advice do you have for military families as they PCS?

I would like to let them all know that it’s not going to be as bad as you think it is! Everyone expects it to be a horrible process because they have heard all the horror stories, but it usually isn’t that way.

We really want to help families, work with them, and find resolutions as fast as possible. We go by the information we have at the time. The initial offer is not necessarily the final offer on your claim! We just need more information. But most of the time, the DPS claims process is relatively simple. And once it is all accepted and checked off, you can get a check within a week. The more information you can provide upfront, the better, but you can always add more details later too. 

A lot of people struggle to communicate with their claims adjuster. What steps should they take to get updates to be sure their claims isn't lost?

Definitely call or email. Use the general claims email if you aren’t getting something from your claims manager. Ask for a manager or supervisor so we can explain why something is happening. They sometimes have more time to explain the overall process rather than a claims adjuster.

Lizann Lightfoot

Lizann Lightfoot

Lizann Lightfoot, the "Seasoned Spouse" is a professional writer and speaker for the military community. After two decades with her service member, her family has been through 7 deployments and 6 PCS moves. Lizann has raised 5 children and published several books for military families. Her most recent book is "Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses" published Sept 2021 by Elva Resa. You can find Lizann's articles and resources at