Here are some things you should know about filing your household goods claim: Submitting Your Claim:
Claims are received Monday through Friday, 0730-1530 hours on a walk-in basis at the Staff Judge Advocate Office in Bldg 124, 678-1263.
Documents Necessary to Complete a Claim:
Plan to submit DD Forms 1842 and 1844, DD Form 1840/1840R, the Government Bill of Lading (TMO can provide you a copy if necessary), your detailed household goods inventory and a copy of your PCS orders. Other forms that may be required include a power of attorney, repair estimates, proof of your claim or settlement with your private insurer, and statements of replacement costs.
70 days: You must give notice of damaged or missing items within 70 days from date of delivery. You do this by turning in your pink DD Form 1840/1840R. For example, if your household goods were delivered on 1 Jan 97, you would have until 10 Mar 97 to file your notice of damage with the WSMR Claims Office.
Two Years: You must file your claim within two years from the date your household goods were delivered. For example, if your goods were delivered on 1 Jan 97, you would have to submit your claim by 1 Jan 99. If you fail to present your claim within the two year deadline, it will be automatically denied by law unless the delay is due to war or armed conflict.
DD Form 1840/1840R:
This pink form is provided to you by the carrier at the time they deliver your household goods (HHG). You´ll need to complete form by listing all damaged or missing items. Include inventory numbers of items missing or damaged.
List the specific nature of the damage and the exact location (if known) of the items you´re claiming. This form must be returned to our office within 70 days of the date of your delivery.
If you discover additional damage after you´ve turned in the form, you may still add it to the DD Form 1840R, provided that you´re still within the 70 day window. NOTE: If you fail to turn in the DD Form 1840/1840R within 70 days of the date of delivery, the amount you might otherwise have been awarded will be reduced and may be denied in total. Failure to note damage during the 70 day time frame creates a presumption that the damage was not related to shipment.
Remember: Your claim for damage to your goods is against the carrier NOT AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT. The government provides this service as a convenience for military members. The government reimburses the member then "steps into his or her shoes" and asserts their claim against the carrier. This process is known as "subrogation" and can only occur in cases where the military member does not have private insurance adequate to cover the damage. Any loss of the government´s recovery from the carrier occasioned by a failure to file within the designated timeframes will result in deductions from your award.
DD Forms 1842 and 1844:
The DD Form 1842 provides you the opportunity to make your claim. You´ll need to print or type your name, social security number, home phone number, organization, office symbol, duty station, zip code, and duty phone number. DO NOT ENTER THE AMOUNT CLAIMED OR SIGN OR DATE THIS FORM BEFORE YOUR APPOINTMENT AT THE CLAIMS OFFICE.
The DD Form 1844 is provided for you to itemize the items lost or damaged and claim repair or replacement costs. Be sure to include the brand name, model size, nature and extent of damage. If an item is missing, please specify "missing." The original price as well as month and year of purchase must be provided as well as the costs to repair and/or replace.
Estimates should be prepared by a qualified repair person, in English, on business letterhead, signed and dated by the person providing it. Generally, repair estimates are required for:
- Items valued at more than $100;
- Claims for internal damage to electrical or mechanical items; and
- When there is a question whether the item is beyond economical repair.
You must also substantiate ownership for items valued at more than $100. A simple purchase receipt will suffice. In some cases, claimants may be asked to provide a sworn statement to substantiate their claim.
Disposal or Repair of Damaged Items:
DO NOT dispose of or repair your goods before your claim is settled. If you have health or safety concerns, contact the claims office for guidance. Failure to preserve an item in its damaged condition may result in denial of the payment for the item. If you receive the replacement cost for your item, you may have to turn it in to the claims office for salvage.
If you have insurance coverage, you MUST first file a claim with your insurance company for the goods or vehicle damaged during shipment. Once your insurer has determine what amount, if any, they will reimburse you, you may then complete and file your claim with the government. In the event your insurance company reimburses you only partially, you may still file a claim for the remainder via the government claims program. Claimants who refuse or fail to provide a copy of their insurance policy or proof of an insurance claim processed by their private insurance company will be penalized. First, it will be presumed that the maximum amount has been awarded under their policy and that amount will be deducted from any government recovery.
The government claims program is authorized under the Military Personnel and Civilian Employees´ Claims Act, 31 U. S. C. 3721. It is not authorized nor intended to substitute for private insurers nor is it intended to benefit private insurers. Private insurers must not evade their contractual obligation to you by requiring that you file a claim with the United States instead of with them. The government claims program is intended as an insurer of last resort when there is no other coverage for damaged items.
Any claim tainted by fraud may be denied in total. Individuals responsible for filing a fraudulent claim may be subject to prosecution.