4 essential files and why they're essential
You may wonder why we determined some documents important enough to pre-list on our PCS binder sets. This post - the first of several - explains the first four documents and why you should be tracking them in your PCS binder.
Explanation of Benefits (EOB) - Health Tab
An EOB is a breakdown of your medical treatment and how an insurance claim, if any, was paid on your behalf. They list the service/treatment(s) received, the participating doctor or hospital, the charges that are and are not covered by your insurance, what your insurance paid, and the amount you now owe, if anything. They're particularly important documents, especially if you're undergoing regular treatment. Many people, however, end up throwing them away since they are not in fact a bill. The information on an EOB is a crucial way - and perhaps the easiest - to locate and rectify insurance/provider/billing errors, and should be compared with one another regularly to ensure that your family's medical information is being accurately tracked.
While it's also a good idea to scan and store important documents like EOBs on a hard drive or in the cloud, keeping your physical copies alone is a solid practice. To be extra thorough, keep your EOBs and match/store them with your corresponding doctor bills.
If you find no errors in your EOBs or are not undergoing serious or long-term care, it is generally safe to dispose of them after 1 year. If, however, you or a family member are seriously ill, you have not yet paid in full, or you do find discrepancies, keep the corresponding EOBs for at least 5 years. Any EOB information used for tax purposes should be kept with tax documents (at least 7 years).
Appliance Serial #s, Warranties - Housing Tab
"This information is nice," you think, "but why is it so important that it's pre-printed?" We'll tell you.
Home maintenance, whether you're renting or buying on- or off-post, runs a lot smoother when you know and can easily track your belongings, especially the more expensive ones. Even if you don't own some of the larger appliances (dishwasher, refrigerator, microwaves, washer/dryer, etc.), chances are you own something electric or of value that can be tracked via serial # or has a warranty.
Tracking appliance serial numbers and item warranties (and even storing manuals) up front can prevent a lot of stress, frustration, and unnecessary work if they break or are lost. With this information accessible, you can more easily file a warranty claim, be notified of a recall, and provide the issuing company the ability to do quality control. And when you're in the military, the frequency of your moves increases your chance of losing or damaging these items. Be prepared and do the tracking work up front once, and enjoy the peace of mind that organization brings.
Wills - Legal Tab
We're not gonna hang on Wills for too long. By now, you know what they are. You know what they do. Without a last will & testament, everything you leave behind in the event of your passing (known as dying "intestate") is distributed and handled by the state, including your property and dependent children. Don't leave your family that additional stress & work after losing you. If you don't have a will, make an appointment with your nearest legal assistance office today to create one. Then keep it (plus an extra copy) in your binder to review and update, if needed, after significant life events.
Do it. Do it right now.
Leave & Earnings Statements - Finance Tab
Per Military OneSource, "Your monthly Leave and Earnings Statement is one of the most important financial documents you have for mastering your money and achieving your financial goals." (https://www.militaryonesource.mil/military-life-cycle/new-to-the-military/getting-settled/your-leave-and-earnings-statement/) It lists everything from basic pay, entitlements, and deductions, to tax withholdings, vacation day accrual, TSP (retirement) contributions, and more. As with your EOBs, keeping the physical copies of your LES (as well as the copies already available on the myPay system) can help you track the accuracy of all this information and to locate and rectify errors more quickly. Errors unchecked for too long can cost you time AND money.
Review your LES statements monthly, especially if you are preparing for or experiencing a deployment, which can affect your pay in different ways. If there are errors - which include overpayments - contact your command administration or finance personnel. For definitions of the lines & acronyms on your LES, check out this Military.com post. Copies of your LES for the past 12-13 months (depending on your branch) are available on myPay.
All List & File customers receive a FREE PCS Binder Printables set, emailed after purchase. This set includes more incredibly helpful details for information discussed briefly here, including our File Lifespan Guide, Evacuation/Communication Plan, Medication List, Warranty Tracker, and much more! Get yours by shopping our binder sets now!