Salute to Spouses Blog

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Retiring? You have one year of free HHG storage, use it wisely

Moving is the one constant about military life. It’s something we all know will happen every two years or so, sometimes a little sooner, sometimes a little later.


And when that time comes, the military tells us where to go. Sure, maybe we have a say in it, an option to pick the top two or three choices. But, most often, we don’t put much thought into it.


The military issues orders, packs us up and ships us off to the new place.


But what about retirement? Where will the military move you then? The short answer is simple – you can pretty much move anywhere you want.


According to the Joint Federal Travel Regulation – the DOD regulation that governs all military travel to include PCS moves - the military will move you anywhere in the United States you want to go, including Alaska and Hawaii. In some cases, DOD will even pay to move you outside the U.S.


Really. The choice is yours, and the military will pay for it.


There’s often a lot of confusion over the military regulations for a retirement PCS, in part because the rules are different for retirement than for a regular separation (for the purposes of this column, remember that we are talking only about retirement). One of the major points of misunderstanding lies in the terms “Home of Record,” or HOR, and “Home of Selection,” or HOS.


Your HOR is generally based on where the service member joined the military. It’s the place listed on military records. It may or may not be the same place you claim residency, but either way, HOR has little to do with retirement.


HOS is the important term to remember for retirement.


During the retirement process, every service member is asked for his or her HOS. This is where your household goods will be shipped, and the location to which the military will reimburse you for travel. HOS is the location that goes on what is the equivalent of PCS orders when you retire.


It’s important to note that you don’t have to choose an HOS right away. You have up to one year from retirement to do so (we’ll come back to why this is important later).


HOR only comes into play if the service member joined the military from outside the 50 U.S. states. For example, if a service member’s HOR is Puerto Rico, the military will pay for a move back to Puerto Rico upon retirement. In that case, the service member would choose Puerto Rico as his or her HOS.


A retiring service member can also choose to move outside the U.S. even if it’s not his or her HOR. Say you pick Costa Rica as your HOS. The military will pay a percentage of the cost, based on what it would have cost to move you within the U.S.


One of the key points to remember is this, as stated in the JFTR: “Once a location is selected, that selection is irrevocable if transportation-in-kind is furnished and used, or travel and transportation allowances are received after the travel is completed.”


In other words, if you accept delivery of HHG or turn in a travel voucher, that location is forever your HOS and all other entitlements/reimbursements are limited to the amount of money it would have cost to move or transport you there.


This is where the one-year timeline mentioned above comes into play. Upon retirement, every service member is entitled to one year of household goods storage. You don’t have to declare a HOS until that one year is up and you have your HHG delivered. This is important because it can give you time to job hunt and/or decide where to move. You can use that time to wait for job offers, travel to a few different places, stay with family, or rent a furnished apartment in the location you think you want to move to until you know for sure.


You can also choose to stay where you are rather than put your HHG in storage, and still have up to one year for the final PCS. Plus, if you live in military housing and must vacate quarters upon retirement, the military will move you within a short distance off base and that will not count as your HOS.


That year gives you a lot of flexibility. Use it wisely.


Here are some other helpful notes for planning the retirement PCS:


  • In some locations, retirees are allowed to rent military housing.
  • You can do a DITY move.
  • Your weight allowance is the same as an active-duty move, and pro gear is allowed.
  • As always, check with your local transportation office to get the most up-to-date information for your situation.
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