Military Divorce: Former Spouse Benefits

Did you know that as an unremarried former spouse of a military service member you may be entitled to retain certain benefits including medical care coverage and use of the Post Exchange and Commissary?

Full Privileges – the “20/20/20” former Spouse

Full benefits (medical, commissary, base exchange, theater, etc.) are extended to an unremarried former spouse when:

  1. the parties had been married for at least 20 years;
  2. the member performed at least 20 years of service creditable for retired pay; and
  3. there was at least a 20 year overlap of the marriage and the military service.

Concerning medical care, if the former spouse is covered by an employer-sponsored health care plan, medical care is not authorized. However, when the former spouse is no longer covered by the employer-sponsored plan, military medical care benefits may be reinstated upon application by the former spouse.

If a 20/20/20 former spouse remarries, eligibility for the benefits is terminated. If the subsequent marriage is ended by divorce or death, commissary, base exchange and theater privileges may be reinstated. Medical care cannot be reinstated.

Limited privileges: the “20/20/15” former spouse

Divorces before April 1, 1985:

A four year renewable identification card authorizing medical benefits (no commissary, base exchange, or theater privileges) is awarded to an unmarried former spouse when:

  1. the parties had been married for at least 20 years;
  2. the member performed at least 20 years of service creditable for retired pay; and
  3. there was at least a 15 year overlap of the marriage and the military service.

Concerning medical care, if the former spouse is covered by an employer-sponsored health care plan, medical care is not authorized. However, when the former spouse is no longer covered by the employer-sponsored plan, military medical care benefits may be reinstated.

Divorces on or after April 1, 1985 and before September 30, 1988:

These 20/20/15 former spouses qualify for medical benefits for two years from the date of the divorce, dissolution, or annulment or December 31, 1988, whichever is later. If the former spouse is covered by an employer-sponsored health care plan, medical care is not authorized. When the former spouse is no longer covered by the employer-sponsored plan, military medical care benefits may be reinstated. However, any reinstatement may not extend beyond the original two year entitlement.

Divorces on or after September 30, 1988:

These 20/20/15 former spouses qualify for medical benefits for one year from the date of the divorce, dissolution or annulment. If the former spouse is covered by an employer-sponsored health care plan, medical care is not authorized. When the former spouse is no longer covered by the employer-sponsored plan, military medical care benefits may be reinstated. However, any reinstatement cannot extend beyond the original one year entitlement.

For more information see U.S. Code 1072(2)(F,G,H)

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