In Dividing Military Pensions and Benefits Part 2, we covered formulas for splitting retirement pay for services members recommended by the Uniform Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). With this blog posting we are covering some of the benefits and privileges you may continue enjoy even after divorcing a military service member.
1) Continuing Military Benefits
- Commissary and Post Exchange (“PX”) privileges
An un-remarried former spouse [of a military service member] is entitled to commissary and PX privileges to the same extent and on the same basis as the surviving spouse of a retired member of the uniformed services. This means that if you had commissary and PX privileges at the time of divorce, you can continue to receive these privileges as long as you remain un-married.
The USFSPA uses the “20/20/20” test to determine eligibility for commissary and PX privileges. This is to say that the service member spouse has 20 years of credible service, the marriage lasted 20 years, and there is a 20 year overlap between the marriage and credible service.
- Medical Benefits
There are three categories of health care coverage for former: 1) full military health care coverage, 2) transitional healthcare for up to a year after the divorce, and 3) the DOD Continued Heath Care Benefit Program.
To qualify for the full military health care program: a) the former spouse MUST remain un-remarried, b) the former spouse must satisfy the “20/20/20” rule, and c) the former spouse cannot be enrolled in an employer-sponsored health plan.
To qualify for the transitional health care plan (1 year of coverage) the requirements are similar to the requirements for the full military health care program except that the former spouse satisfies the “20/20/15” rule instead of the “20/20/20” rule. To qualify for a second year of coverage the former spouse must have enrolled in the DOD Continued Heath Care Benefit Program.
To qualify for the DOD Continued Health Care Benefit Program (“CHAMPUS”) you must be losing entitlement to a military health care program such as divorce from a military service member, non-career military personnel (and family members) who are about to lose coverage. It is important to note that there is a time limitation and cost associated with this coverage. For more information about CHAMPUS coverage, please consult your military health care administrator.
2) Designated Survivor Benefit Plan (“SBP”) Beneficiaries
Generally military retirement pay terminates when the military service member dies. The SBP acts a life insurance policy of sorts that makes up for the loss of military retirement pay to eligible survivors such as spouses (or former spouses) and children, in the form of a monthly payment.
The SBP pays out in the following percentages:
- a) under the age of 62, 55% of the deceased service member’s retirement pay;
- b) over the age of 65, 35% of the deceased service member’s retirement pay.
Generally, a spouse’s coverage under the SBP expires upon divorce. However, there are states that allow for divorce decrees to direct service members to elect their former spouses as SBP beneficiaries. If you are unsure if your state allows for you to remain a SBP beneficiary, please give your local attorney a call.
For more information about what benefits and privileges you may be entitled to after your divorce from a military service member, please contact one of our knowledgeable attorneys.
—————————————– 10 U.S.C. 1408: The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (https://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA452505)  10 U.S.C. § 1062  10 U.S.C. § 1062 – Note that the termination of a subsequent marriage MAY revive them.  10 U.S.C. §§ 1072, 1078, and 1086  &  Divorces before April 1, 1985 uses the “20/20/15” rule which only requires a 15 year overlap in military service and marriage instead of the 20 year overlap required today.  The SBP designation can end of the designee remarries before the age of 55, however, the SBP can be reinstated if the spouses’ marital status becomes since again.  After 62, the spouse would presumably be eligible for Social Security Benefits.