Temporary Lodging Expense For PCS MovesUpdated: July 7, 2021
What do you need to know about the Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE) For PCS Moves? This is an important benefit to help military members and their families offset the cost of permanent change of station moves to a new duty location.
TLE may be paid to those going on accompanied tours with dependents, or it may be paid to a single military member relocating alone. Either way, this is for PCS moves within the continental United States, or CONUS.
The Defense Travel Management Office defines the Temporary Lodging Expense as, “an allowance that partially reimburses a Service member for lodging and meal expenses while staying in temporary lodging, in the CONUS, during a PCS.”
TLE is not paid for those on Temporary Duty (TDY), as there is a separate per diem system for TDY travel.
It is also not paid to those traveling to a new military duty assignment overseas. That is the function of the Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA). The Temporary Lodging Expense is not necessarily intended to cover all meals and lodging expenses–it is more like an offset to these expenses rather than full reimbursement.
Even if you are entitled to TLE, claiming it requires you to complete a travel voucher. TLE is not paid automatically, and if you do not file a travel voucher and take time to claim your TLE, you will not be reimbursed for your PCS travel.
Service members cannot claim both TLE and a daily per diem. It’s one or the other, depending on your authorization to get on a given PCS and when. The Defense Travel Management Office official site reminds us, “Temporary Lodging Expense may be paid for any day that per diem for PCS travel time is not paid, up to 5 or 10 days”.
TLE is not authorized for all stops during a PCS move. Temporary lodging, to be reimbursable, must, in this case, be “in the vicinity of the old or new Permanent Duty Station, the home of record, an initial technical school, or a designated place.”
Add to that the fact that TLE is not paid indiscriminately. You must use available government quarters near the original duty station or the new assignment where possible.
Non-Availability Statement Required
In cases where government quarters are unavailable, to claim lodging expenses, a non-availability confirmation number must be generated in the lodging reservation process. This non-availability confirmation must be provided to be reimbursed for the cost of commercial lodging.
Without a statement of nonavailability and the accompanying number, your reimbursement is limited to “the Government cost or the locality lodging rate, whichever is lower”.
In cases where a traveler stays with friends or family, they are only reimbursed for the meals portion of the TLE calculation. They are not paid money for lodging expenses that did not occur.
It is crucial to save all receipts to submit with your travel voucher. Expenses above a certain amount may not be reimbursed without a receipt, and lodging is definitely one expense that will require receipts.
If you lose your original receipts en route to the new duty station, you may be able to obtain copies by calling the hotel or lodging facility where you stayed to request a copy of your final bill. The same is true for rental cars and other high-value travel services.
One thing to keep in mind about this–however you obtain and submit receipts for lodging, they must be itemized as per Joint Travel Regulation paragraph 010301.
TLE Is Not Authorized When…
Service members are not paid TLE when traveling to basic training, but may be authorized when traveling to their first duty assignment. Service members, at the time of this writing, are not authorized TLE for travel from their final duty station when retiring or separating.
TLE is also not authorized for unapproved facilities. Temporary lodging is defined as, “lodging that is used as a temporary place of residence, such as a hotel. Temporary lodging includes temporary lodging facilities operated by a Service.”
It does not include “permanent-type residence quarters occupied indefinitely” at a new permanent duty station. Do not count on being paid to stay in such facilities when you arrive.
TLE For Mil-To-Mil Couples
How does the Department of Defense handle TLE for PCS travel involving a military couple who are both serving? Each person gets TLE, and each may draw up to $290 per day (in 2021). However, DoD regulations state clearly that a married mil-to-mil couple may not claim each other as a dependent when the calculations for TLE are made.
How TLE Is Calculated
TLE is calculated using a per diem which may vary depending on the state and other factors. Instructions for calculating TLE include a cap for lodging expenses and meals.
To calculate TLE, there is a formula that must be used–service members draw TLE as a percentage of the local per diem rate applicable where the temporary lodging is located.
The military member, plus the number of dependents and their ages also factor in. Temporary Lodging Expense reimbursement must not exceed a certain daily cap–in 2021, that cap was listed as $290 per day, but these numbers are always subject to change–check with your unit orderly room to determine current limits.
To run TLE numbers, multiply the applicable percentage in the formula below by the applicable locality lodging and meals and incidental expenses rates listed in the DoD publication, Per Diem Rates Query.
- One individual (Service member or one dependent) 65%
- Two individuals (Service member and one dependent, or two dependents) 100%
- Each additional dependent 12 years of age or older 35%
- Each additional dependent younger than 12 years of age 25%
Next, review the “actual daily lodging cost” (plus taxes) to the cost ceiling found when running the numbers above. The “gross daily equivalency” must be added to the daily meals and incidental expenses rate.
Determine the per diem rate and compare the maximum amount ($290 in 2021, see above) with the amount you get when adding the gross daily equivalency to the daily meals and expenses rate. The Temporary Lodging Expense amount is the lower of the two amounts.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News