Maybe there was a scratch, dent, or shatter. Maybe you arrived at your new duty station with slightly fewer boxes than you had at your point of departure. Maybe the movers took “handle with care” as a suggestion, instead of an order.

Regardless, not every permanent change-of-station move goes smoothly. When there are issues, movers can head to to begin the claims process (there’s even an online tutorial) or can reach out to their service’s claims office.

But don’t delay: There are time limits at nearly every stage of the process, and missing a deadline can mean less money to repair or replace your damaged or destroyed goods. Here’s a quick primer:

On the day of the move, fill out DD Form 1840 (Joint Statement of Loss or Damage at Delivery) along with your mover. This is an optional step, but it could eliminate some debates over damages later in the process. The form must be filed via the Defense Personal Property System portal within 30 days.

Claimants have up to 75 days from their move to file the full damage report (DD-1840R), noting their intent to file a claim. They then have nine months from the date of delivery to file an itemized claim with DPS seeking full replacement value for damaged items. If they don’t file a report, they must file the itemized claim within 75 days of the delivery; if you have claim-related questions, officials advise contacting your claims office well before the 75-day window runs out, to allow for processing.

From the time the report or the claim is filed, the claimants have up to two years to work with their service’s claims office and file for partial reimbursement for other damaged items that weren’t mentioned on the original claim.

Service members and families aren’t the only ones on the clock: The moving company is required to act on claims within 60 days, either paying, denying or offering a counter-claim.

Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.

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