Guest Post: Read Your Orders – Executing a Close Proximity Move

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By Dr. G. Adam Jakubek*

I am in the process of a PCS from NH Jacksonville to Kings Bay, and noticed that my Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) would drop significantly based on the change in duty station zip codes. The BAH rates vary depending on your duty station zip code, not your address, so you could see a dip in a few hundred dollars if your duty station changes but elect to keep your home in your prior, higher BAH rate zip code.

I’ve had colleagues PCS to close proximity duty stations and elect to not move their family and miss out on keeping their BAH at their old duty station. Some examples I’ve seen where people see a drop in BAH are PCS moves from San Diego to Camp Pendleton, or the Bethesda/National Capital Area to places like Annapolis or Baltimore where rates drop by $200­-300/month.

The current order writing system authorizes funding for a household goods shipment by default if your new duty station is farther than 30 miles away from your prior duty station, but you might prefer to make the commute if it means staying in your home, keeping your kids in the same schools, etc.

My current orders have the following statement attached:

‐ MEMBERS WHO RECEIVE PCS ORDERS WHEN THEIR OLD AND NEW PERMANENT DUTY STATIONS ARE WITHIN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO EACH OTHER (BASED ON A REASONABLE COMMUTE DETERMINED BY THE GAINING CO) MAY BE ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE A CLOSE PROXIMITY WAIVER AND RECEIVE BAH BASED ON THEIR OLD PDS LOCATION. SEE NAVADMIN 101/10 FOR WAIVER ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS AND PROCEDURES. GO TO: HTTP://WWW.PUBLIC.NAVY.MIL/BUPERS‐NPC/ REFERENCE/MESSAGES/PAGES/DEFAULT.ASPX.

If you follow the instructions in the NAVADMIN, it is a relatively simple process, but the key is completing the request through your gaining command BEFORE you execute your orders. Your gaining command needs to endorse your request stating that your commute is ‘reasonable’ and you forfeit your household goods shipment, making it a no‐cost PCS move for the government.

Once you receive the signed endorsement letter from your gaining command, you forward that letter directly to your detailer. You’ll get an order modification that drops your household goods shipment funding and states that you’re authorized BAH at your prior duty station rate. Again, make sure you follow up with your detailer prior to checking out of your old command if you haven’t seen your order modification come through in NSIPS. Once you check into your new command PSD or Human Resources department with your modified orders, you’ll be locked into that BAH rate and cannot retroactively request funding for a household goods shipment if you decide to move later on in your tour.

Here are some useful templates to help you with this process:

Close Proximity Approval Letter

Close Proximity Request Letter

 

*The views expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense or the United States Government.

10 thoughts on “Guest Post: Read Your Orders – Executing a Close Proximity Move

    Arnie said:
    June 10, 2018 at 10:51

    Question: what if it’s not a reasonable commute? Can I still make this request? For instance: what if I get PCS orders from San Diego to 29 Palms (my BAH would drop by almost $2,000!). I would be inclined to leave my family in San Diego and somehow ‘commute’ to 29 Palms. Do you think that would fly?

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      Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
      June 10, 2018 at 12:26

      No, that would not fly.

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      Dave said:
      June 11, 2018 at 10:42

      Didn’t there used to be some sort of split BAH for geographic bachelors?

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        Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
        June 11, 2018 at 18:56

        Not to my knowledge. “Geo bach” is not an official status or term. It is a personal decision, not an official option. It doesn’t exist and is not mentioned in the MILPERSMAN.

        Like

    Randy M Davis said:
    October 30, 2018 at 00:34

    Any way this can still be granted after the transfer took place?

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      Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
      October 30, 2018 at 18:20

      Definitely not if you already took dislocation allowance or filed a claim for a move, and probably not even if you didn’t do any of that stuff.

      Like

    Kristi Stone-Garza said:
    February 5, 2019 at 15:50

    Do you know what is the cutoff mileage for funded vs no-cost PCS moves in close proximity PCS? For instance, I’ll be relocating from San Diego to Camp Pendleton and it’s about 50 miles difference. Commuting is not realistic for me so I’ll be relocating my family regardless if it’s funded or not but would certainly prefer it wasn’t out of my own pocket.

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      Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
      February 5, 2019 at 21:52

      Anything < 31 miles can't be funded and has to be no-cost/local. Whether SD to CP is funded or not was always changing, so I'd just ask the Detailer.

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    stonegarza said:
    February 5, 2019 at 16:07

    Do you know if there is a mileage cutoff for funded vs no-cost proximity moves? I really can’t find this in any instructions. For instance, I will be relocating from San Diego to Camp Pendleton and commuting is untenable in my situation so my family and I will relocate regardless if it’s funded or not. Of course, I’d prefer I did not have to pay out of pocket. In case it is not funded, the above post and request applies to those who specifically are requesting to maintain higher BAH by agreeing to maintain their continous current residence and forteiting the funded HHG. I reviewed the JTR Ch 10, and it states “The Service may instead pay a housing allowance based on the old PDS rate in a situation involving a low or no-cost move. The determination of whether to base the housing allowance on the old PDS because it is inequitable to base it on the new PDS is made by the Secretary concerned or through the Secretarial Process.” There does not appear to be a stipulation that I would have to maintain my old residence. Is this request still routing through the gaining command before checking in and do I use a similar template? I could not find one for this particular situation. Thanks in advance.

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      Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
      February 5, 2019 at 21:54

      Orders < 31 miles had to be no-cost/local, but whether SD to CP or vice versa was funded or local was always changing. I'd ask your Detailer.

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