Are TDY Reimbursement Cuts Hurting You?

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You may get less back from the government after your spouse’s next TDY, thanks to new DoD rules. But are they hurting your pocket book?

The cuts, which were designed to save the DoD money while spurring government travelers to find cheaper lodging, food and vehicles options for long-term TDY assignments, fall into two categories. The first applies to all TDYs, including trips less than 30 days. Among those changes are the elimination of reimbursements for certain things like baggage tips and ATM fees.

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The second, though, is a big deal to families whose service members regularly go on long TDY assignments. Rather than receive the full per-diem pay for their location, those travelers will only receive 75 percent of the rate for days 31 to 180 and 55 percent for anything over that. In affect, those traveling more than 180 days will receive almost half of what they received for the first 30 days.

Most service members who are away for more than 180 days are deployed, not TDY. But there are some troops out there, particularly members of the Special Forces communities, who regularly go on TDY instead of deployment assignments. And for those people a rate slash like the one instituted Nov. 1 can mean big problems.

You can read all about the reaction of military families to this change over in my Military.com news article. 

DoD officials say that travelers who are staying for longer than 30 days should be able to find cheaper rooms, thus ruling out the need for the full rate.

“The commercial lodging industry considers stays greater than 30 days to be “extended stays” and typically offers reduced rates to ensure occupancy,” Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a DoD spokesman, told us in a statement. “Travelers may also consider furnished apartments or similar types of lodging which are typically cheaper than room rates in commercial lodging.”

And, he said, rates can appealed.

“If both the traveler and the Commercial Travel Office (CTO) determine that lodging is not available at the reduced per diem rate, the authorizing official may authorize reimbursement of actual lodging expenses (not to exceed the locality per diem rate),” he said.

Since the change to long term travel has only been in effect since Nov. 1, it may be too soon for families to tell how, if at all, the change is impacting them. But we’re trusting you to reach out if you notice a problem. Leave us a comment below.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • Ron

    How are contractors affected by these new regulations?

    • Jane

      Contractor travel is usually done in accordance with company policies and whatever is affordable inside the confines of the specific contract. Many contracts have shrunk in recent years and companies have already taken steps to adapt so that they can still turn a profit.

  • Baby Girl

    The thing about it, is if your tdy is close to a military base it is mandatory that you stay on base. Base does not offer cheaper rates for longer stays. If you don’t get that non-a letter even if staying off base is cheaper, you won’t get reimbursed. They can’t have it both ways.

  • NRO

    Are Federal employees implementing a similar system? If not, why not? Because they have a Union?

    If the reimbursements are not sufficient, are the over and above costs tax deductible?

    • ChrisW

      es. Any expense that is not reimbursed by your employer is a deduction but only if you itemize. Official name is ” Unreimbursed employee expenses”. An example is when you are required to use your POV for official business is deductible at either the standard rate or at the actual expense. The key is to keep meticulous records (receipts, descriptions, etc)

  • Leah

    There is a lot of unknown to this. My spouse is scheduled for a TDY just shy of 180 days so we should get the 75% rate and have living accommodations within that rate, but what if the TDY goes over 180 days which is very likely. Do they come back at the end and change it to 55% for the entire time? No one has been able to answer this and we can only hope we don’t go over the 180 days since that would really hurt us having to pay back money when we thought we were able to live within the 75% bracket.