From The Mailbag: Ex-Spouse Benefits

I get a lot of email here with a variety of questions.  We’re working on a separate, “Ask Kate,” page, but in the meantime I thought I’d better put them in with the regular posts.  I’ve always thought that if one person is asking a question, there are probably 10 more people thinking the same question.

I’ve edited the original question to eliminate some personally identifying information and to make it more clear.

Hi Kate!  I need some questions answered if you could.  I am divorced from a sailor and I haven’t been active on base for many years. nI have a little girl by him whom is now 22 years old.  I was wondering if I still have the same benefits that I did even though I’m divorced many years as a military spouse? can you E-Mail me and give me some pointers…  Cindy

I know this one is going to get a lot of people riled up.  There are more specific instructions for specific situations, but I’m pretty sure my answer fits her details:

Dear Cindy,

Thank you for writing to The Paycheck Chronicles.  I wish I had more information for you.  I’m not sure that I exactly understand your situation.  You are divorced from a military member, and you want to know if there are benefits available for you?

The answer depends on a variety of factors, and also the type of benefits about which you are asking.  First, there is the length of your marriage, the length of your ex-husband’s military service, and the amount of time that the two overlapped.  The rule for most benefits is 20-20-20, meaning that you must have been married at least 20 years, your ex-husband must have served at least 20 years, and that you must have been married for at least 20 years of his active duty service.  This is generally true for any benefit provided by the US government.

There are a few thing that aren’t really benefits but that can be designated in a divorce decree.  These include the division of retired pay and the payment of SBP (Survivor Benefit Program) premiums.  Again, most courts look at the length of marriage in determining whether you might be awarded those.  You will need to look at the divorce decree to see if you asked for and received either of those benefits.

Of course, your daughter was eligible for Tricare medical coverage and base facility privileges since the time of your divorce, and may still be eligible if she is a full-time student.

Hope that answers your questions,


As many of you know, I’ve simplified this a bit because I’m pretty sure that Cindy doesn’t meet any of the other guidelines.  If you have other questions on a similar topic, please let me know or check out Ask June’s numerous pieces talking about ex-spousal benefits.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • M. Harris

    My Grandson will be coming out of the Marines after serving four years in December. What benefits are available to him as far as going to college. He has always wanted to go into the medical field, maybe physical threapy.

  • MSgt Guest

    Question: I’m currently active duty AF and been in for 20+ yrs. I’m still single but wondered if I was to get remarried could my retirement be included if I went through a divorce? And would it be different if I married while I’m still on active duty compared to being retired? I don’t see how the court can touch my retirement but if thats my livable income I could see them trying to get their hands on it. Thoughts??

    • KateKashman

      MSgt Guest, I don’t even want to guess what the courts might decide in the future. It seems like it would be unlikely that they could award retirement to a spouse who wasn’t even married to you until after you retired, but who knows. I’d do some careful documentation and possible do a pre-nuptial agreement if you are worried.

      Good luck to you!

      • MSgt Guest

        Yes, this worries me! I will have a pre-nup if I decide to go down that road again. Plus, I own my house free and clear…who knows how that would play out. If I had the house included in the pre-nup, then sold it to by a new one…would it void the pre-nup and leave a large loop hole for the lawyers?

        • guest

          If you sold the house, then used that money to buy a new one, while you are married…then that house is a joint marital asset and divisible in a divorce. The real question may be, why consider marriage if you are already considering the divorce? If you are getting married anytime soon sit down with your significant other, a lawyer and a financial planner.

          • MSgt Guest

            I consider it because I was married once! Guess what…it ended in divorce. She decided to mess around and got pregnant while I was deployed. Luckily, we didn’t have any kids or commingled debt. She did try to get half the house and used my pension as leverage. I had a lot less assets back then, now I have assets and I’ve worked hard for them and I’ll be damned if I lose it. Continued

          • MSgt Guest

            I can understand if you get married young and raise a family, then everything should be equal…but I think there should be something that says “everything up to this point is yours” if a divorce happens…but if your assets grow, then everything after that is dividable. I will never go into a marriage half-a$$ed but with divorce rates so high you need to try and protect yourself…even if you don’t think you have anything to lose. I’ve seen so many people want to leave a marriage and then try to take the other person to the cleaners. If I was leaving someone I wouldn’t want anything thing from them unless I earned it. My ex-wife made twice as much as what I made and I never tried to go after a dime. She worked and earned her benefits and I earned mine. -Continued-

          • MSgt Guest

            I do think it’s different when a spouse gives up a career to follow a service member or stays home to care for the kids. I think in this situation things should be more equal.

          • taylor bunn

            even as a civilian spouse i gave up my career to be with my wife who had an affair while at fort lost in the woods. after giving up my career the best job there was at the DFAC washing dishes at 4 in the mornin. i felt like i ws screwin myself everyday. but in th ename of love and SACRIFICE

          • USFSPA Killer

            MSgt Guest – You didn’t and don’t get a military “pension” ! – You get military retired PAY – you are still on the payroll available for involuntary short notice recall back to active service. Remember, you formally agreed to those conditions in writing when you applied for transfer to the retired reserve !

          • Kate

            USFSPA, I’m curious. Are you physically ready for a short-notice recall? Do you believe that all persons receiving retired pay are physically ready? Is that a requirement for receiving retired pay? What about 100% disabled retirees?

            No one disagrees that your facts are correct. However, it’s simply semantics and not the true state of the situation.

          • USFSPA Killer

            Kate – No military retiree’s physical rediness is any business of anyone else but the individual military retiree. Irregardless of physical ability readiness, a retiree recalled to active duty will first get a full physical exam. If then found to be physically unfit to return to active service, they will be rertired at their former disability rating, but still remain on the available retiree recall list until the funeral director locks the lid on their casket ! So yes, a disabled retiree can be recalled over and over but would be returned to disability retirement again and again.



    • KateKashman

      Mr. Molter, thanks for looking out for your friend. If your friend was married to the service member for 20 years, the service member was in the service for 20 years, and there were 20 years overlapping (where they were married and the service member was on active duty,) then she should be eligible for the same medical benefits as she would have retained if they had remained married. Now that the service member is deceased, it would require a great amount of effort to gather their marriage and divorce records, as well as his service records, to establish her eligibility. Not impossible, just challenging.

      Regarding the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), the divorce decree would have had to specify that the service member keep her on his SBP, to the extent he was able under the rules of SBP. If there was no such order in the divorce decree, and the service member did not pay SBP premiums, she would not be eligible for an SBP annuity.

      Hope that helps!

      • USFSPA Killer

        Kate – SSgt Molter’s comments do not mention anything about his friend being divorced from the Army service member; his verbiage indicates that they were married to each other at the time of his death. Bringing in superfluous info only adds to the confusion. You are right in addressing the challenge of gathering a complete picture of service and marriage records to determine any benefit eligibilty.

  • Kathleen

    My question is about benefits for my children. My x-husband is retired USMC & carries TriCare medical & dental benefits for our children (twins, age 10). Their primary care provider is on a nearby base. Since the divorce, he has put a “passcode” on the benefits (which code he hasn’t given me) and without this passcode, TriCare cannot give me any information/set up referrals, etc. and without an ID card (I obviously don’t have one & he took our children’s), I cannot get on base or have them seen. Our daughter is sick today and she needs to see a doctor and their father won’t call me back. I guess my only option is to take them off-base and pay for it myself. This is so frustrating since they do have benefits. Any advice?

    • KateKashman

      Kathleen, I think you are going to need to get a lawyer, and quickly. As their custodial parent, their ID cards should be with you, and for exactly this reason. I am so sorry that you are having to deal with this. I hope your daughter feels better soon and you and your ex-husband can come to some sort of arrangement.

  • Herlinda Trinidad

    My former spouse was in the USMC. He joined in 1965, & we married 8/6/1967. Our divorce was final 11/17/1990. He retired on or about 09/1985.
    I receive 50% of his retirement pay. Today I find myself questioning if I qualify for commissary, PX or medical privileges.
    Can you give me some direction? Do I not meet the 20/20/20?
    Thank you,

    • USFSPA Killer

      Herlinda – Your marriage and his service time actually overlapped by a month short of 18 years. You are considered a 20/20/15 former spouse and not eligible for the 20/20/20 lifetime benefits. Since you were married more than 10 during his service time, DFAS can garnish his military retired pay and send you a monthly court ordered amount.

  • Are there recent changes regarding qualifications of ex-spouses for the retirement benefits from the retired military man?

    • USFSPA Killer

      No changes to the qualifications of ex spouses have EVER been made to the USFSPA, as there were never any qualifications in the original law and none of the 23 changes since it became law in 1982, but unconstitutionally backdated to June 25, 1981 !

  • F. Tibbs

    I am an ex-spouse of a service member. I have been receiving 50 per cent of his military retirement since our divorce in 2005. My divorce decree states nothing of how long I would receive it. My question is: will I continue receiving the retirement if I remarry?

    • USFSPA Killer

      F. Tibbs – You will receive your monthly USFSPA check as long as both of you are still breathing on this earth. If he dies before you, his retired pay will stop, and, obviously, so will your monthly USFSPA check, regardless if you or he remarry or not. That is one of the most egregious terms of the USFSPA – so unlike remarriage stopping alimony. If you pass away before him, the garnishee stops and he collects his full pay.

    • Watchin’ the fun

      You’ll receive your cut of his retired pay as long as you both are alive. If he predeceases you, then your cut of his pay stops unless he had to buy SBP then you’ll get whatever part of his retired pay (not all of it!) he paid to have you get until you pass away. If you pass away before him, well, you won’t need to worry about it then, will you ? (The garnishee will stop and he’ll get his FULL retired pay until the undertaker slams the lid on his coffin!)

  • June

    I was married to a navy person we were together 20 years he served at least 17 of those yrs in the military. We divorced he had about 2 years before he could retire. He said before I get any of his retirement he would get out of the service. I know he was out for a while after the divorce. I have no idea if he went back in and finished his 20 yrs or not. Was he eligible for anything after serving in the military for 17 years? He was ordered to pay child support at the time but never did our four kids are adults now. I did remarry myself later on but am now divorced. Am I eligible for anything after being married to him the whole time he was in the service?

    • guest

      If he left after 17 years he gets nothing. If it’s not in your divorce decree that you were to get X money of retirement it wouldn’t matter if he did 20 years you wouldn’t be entitled to a dime of it if it wasn’t written into your decree at the time of the original divorce. If it is in the decree that you were to receive a portion you can request a copy of his DD214 through the FOIA act to see how many years of qualifying service he has

      • USFSPA Killer

        Guest – you are sadly misinformed about obtaining Personally Identifying Information (PII) via the FOIA. DD Form 214 is a personal info form and can not be obtained by just anyone. Only the named person can obtain it under the PRIVACY ACT (not the “FOIA”) or by the named person’s next-of-kin with a copy of the named person’s death certificate.

  • emmaburch87

    I fell under the 20-20-20 rule when I got divorced in 2007. My question is: At what age could I remarry and not lose my portion of the ex retirement?

    • guest

      You won’t loose the portion of your ex’s retirement if you remarry, you will lose Tricare coverage forever though and SBP while you are married.

      • Gayle

        Portion of ex’s retirement; you loose if you marry prior to age 55. Tricare; if you take other insurance then you loose that, not sure on the marriage and Tricare. Call Tricare, they will explain in detail your options you don’t want any errors.

        • guest

          Actually you don’t loose portion of retirement if you remarry prior to age 55, she could loose SBP if she remarries prior to age 55 but it could be reinstated in event of divorce. Tricare is forfeited immediately and forever regardless of age or future marital status.

    • USFSPA Killer

      If you remarry to an active or retired military member, you will gain current spouse benefits from that sponsor member !

  • Phyllis

    Married to a CPO E7 for 21 years, filed for divorce in our state, he was stationed in NC and stayed there, for 8 yr we went back and forth on jurisdiction finally 7 years later I gave up and he got the divorce but I just found the final decree and it says he gave up rights to Equitable distribution to my state, I was given 600.00 a month allomony and 50% of his military pay, it has been 13 yrs and I just read this in our decree, am I entitled to anything now and how do I find out more? Im 66 yrs old

    • phyllis

      forgot to mention have never gotten a dime or anything from anyone involved.

    • KateKashman

      Phyllis, I am afraid I don’t understand your details but the answer is the same regardless: retain a qualified attorney, preferrably one who is experienced in military divorce. Good luck to you.

      • Esther

        Also, if he is rated at at 50% or more he should be getting his full retirement pay separate from VA pay

  • Kathleen

    My x was getting military retirement. Now, however, he gets VA benefits due to his PTSD and the military retirement has gone away. Therefore, I am not getting any child support. I have heard that getting child support from VA benefits is next to impossible. Is this right?

    • KateKashman

      While each state makes its own child support rules, veterans benefits are generally considered income in determining the amount of child support. What gets difficult is that federal benefits are usually not garnishable. However, veterans benefits that are being received in lieu of military retirement payments are able to be garnished for purposes of child support. This is part of the Social Security Act and is a specific exception to the general rule.

      I’m not sure why your ex-husband thinks that he doesn’t need to pay child support just because the source of his income has changed. I definitely suggest that you pursue this issue. If you want to send me an email (the link is above at the left), I can send you some references for more information.

      Good luck to you.

      • Susana

        My little girls father was in the service Navy for about 8 years and he just got out on disability. I have a 20month old and i was receiving Child support garnishment and now he has filled disability 100% and now i am not getting anything. What can i do? He also says that she will not have any medical insurance in august 2015.

  • Janet

    I am divorced from an AF serviceman and when he retires I will be able to collect half of his retirement pay. My question is if he should pass away after he retires will I continue to collect half of his retirement pay?

    • Kate

      Janet, continuation of income after death is a separate benefit from military retirement pay. The program is called the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP.) Your husband can elect to cover you, his former spouse, under SBP, when he has to make the designation at the time of retirement. You should check your divorce decree and see if it includes anything about the SBP. If your divorce does not require him to provide SBP coverage, you might see if you can work out an arrangement with him to provide that coverage. It does have a cost, so you’d have to work out those details together.

  • r penna

    My husband is retired navy after 20 years. He was married to his first wife for 12 years while he served. After he retired he divorced her so she is receiving 1/3 of his retirement. She remarried (at 52) a few years ago but got divorced a year after. Since she remarried is she still entitled to a portion of my husband’s retirement??

    • Kate

      If she was awarded a portion of his retirement in the divorce decree, that award is not affected by her remarriage.

  • cherrie

    My husband and i been married 13 yrs. and he is retiring 4 yrs from now. Him and i is going through divorce right now, we do have 2 childrens together. My question is am i entitle to get some of his retirement even if i remarried in the future? And am i entitle to keep my ID card? Thank you


    • Kate

      Cherrie, please, please retain an attorney who is thoroughly experienced in military divorces. You absolutely do not want anyone advising you who is not an expert.

      That said, you may request a division of military retirement as part of your divorce settlement. Depending on the circumstances and how hard your husband fights it, it may or may not be granted.

      You will lose access to other military benefits, such as commissary and medical benefits, when your divorce is finalized. You will need to work with your nearest base as your children will still have base privileges.

      But do not trust me. Get a professional.

      • CHERRIE

        THANK YOU.

      • USFSPA Killer

        Kate & Janet – If it isn’t in the divorce decree, you have one year after it was final to apply for SPB coverage –

  • K.D

    When I met my ex he was already in the Navy…We were married for 23yrs..He retired after serving 26yrs..Yes we were still married when he retired…He’s remarried…I haven’t remarried…I heard I would have to renew my military ID on my own now, sending some kind of form out requesting to renew my military ID…Is there a form I can fill out online? Also, what will I lose if I remarry? Thank you..(K.D.)

    • Kate

      K.D., there are many more factors here. I can\’t answer your questions thoroughly without knowing how many years you were married and how many of those married years overlapped with his active military service. There are different tiers of benefits for different situations, and there are also variables that depend on the terms of your divorce decree.

      If you can provide more info, we can give you more answers.

  • rhonda

    I was married to a retired MSGT with 20+ years of service. We were not married when he was active duty. Shortly after we married, he was dx with cancer and passed away. I continued to receive medical benefits (for a fee). After 5 years I remarried and lost that benefit. I am now divorced and wondered if I was eligible to recevie that benefit back?

    • Kate

      Rhonda, widows who remarry are not eligible to regain their medical benefits, even if their subsequent marriage ends.

      • USFSPA Killer

        Kate & Rhonda – If you remarried to an active or retired military person, you will gain current spouse benefits from that active or retired military person

  • Judy Altieri

    I was married to a AF man for 34 years. When we divorced (2003) I was getting benefits through 2009. All of a sudden they said I was not eligible any longer and the females name on records was not mine. At the time he was living with said girl friend( never married her) and is not living with her since 2011. when I inquired about coverage being cancelled, they told me I never had coverage even though I had Tri-Care paperwork in front of me. My ex spouse said he did not think I needed it any longer and his girlfriend at the time needed the extra insurance( mind you never married her). I do have 2 insurances at this point but the Tri-Care coverage meant I did not have to pay copy’s which at a disability income of 28000. That mDe a big difference to me. Could you tell me why a live I girl friend would be allowed coverage ( not a girl friend while in military, and not even together as of this date. He has his own home but keeps a PO box for personal reasons. Could you help me with some of these question. he also told me he had the option of whether he wanted me to have coverage or not.

    • Kate

      Judy, I can only comment on the legal and policy aspects of your question.

      Some benefits can be designated in a divorce decree, such as alimony, separation of retired pay, or Survivor Benefit Plan enrollment. Whatever the divorce decree says is what goes for those benefits. The military has no say in these benefits, other than to assist with the administration.

      Other benefits are determined by the military and are based upon your “status” as a former spouse. Do you meet the 20-20-20 rule, meaning twenty years of marriage, twenty years of your ex-spouse’s military service, with twenty years overlapping? If you meet the 20-20-20 rule, then you are eligible for certain benefits regardless of your ex-husband’s opinions or wishes. Those benefits include commissary privileges and medical coverage.

      When you say you were “getting benefits through 2009,” it is important to explain which benefits and why you were getting them. If you are eligible for military-sponsored benefits because you qualify under the 20-20-20 rule, that eligibility does not end unless you remarry. If you were receiving certain benefits because of the terms of your divorce decree, then it would be up to the courts to enforce those terms. Military medical would not be one of them, unless your ex-husband was required, in your divorce decree, to provide you coverage under the CHCPB program for former beneficiaries.

      It is vitally important that you understand the situation clearly and the rules and policies as they apply to the situation. I strongly suggest that you check with the lawyer who handled your divorce to have the details explained to you.

  • Geniese Rymer

    Hi my question is this. My husband was navy for 4 years and I am currently married to him Do I qualify for Va benefits!

    • Kate

      If your husband is disabled and you (together) are at a very low income, you might be eliglble for a small pension. You will need to contact the VA or look at to search for information on your specific situation.

  • Cherry

    Hi Cindy,
    I have being married to my husband for 26years I fall under the 20-20-20 rule.we are talking about a divorce. He told me on my last day of chemo treatment that he was planning to leave.i wanted to know he gets 80/percent of disability benefits from Va and I entitle to that?

    • Kate

      Cherry, I am so sorry that you are going through this. The good news is that you will retain your medical benefits because you are a 20-20-20 spouse. You need a good lawyer that thoroughly understand how military retirement and VA benefits work together. It gets very complicated when the retiree is receiving both, and then sometimes it can change after a divorce settlement has been finalized.

      This document has been prepared to help lawyers understand the nuances of the situation:

      It would be good for you to read it and for your lawyer to understand it. Good luck!

  • bebe

    I want to know if I am eligible for commissary privleges. My spouse was in the army for 15 yrs and took the early out; he is now deceased and I am on tri-care where my medicines are reimbursed to me.

    • Kate

      bebe, there are many different issues here. You may find faster answers by contacting the pass and ID office at your nearest military installation. First, what do you mean by “early out?” Does that mean early retirement? Also, were you married at the time of his death? If not, how long were you married and how much of your marriage overlapped with his time in the service.

      If you are eligible for retiree Tricare, or Tricare for Life, then you are probably eligible for commissary privileges. However, we’d need a lot more information and you are probably going to get faster answers from an actual military representative.

      Good luck to you!

  • Leah

    I am divorced to a air guard/ who was a full time tec at same Guard job. So divorce decree says I am entitled to 50% of retirement pay for the years we were married 15. 2 years afte the divorce he got a “medical retirement” . My question is am I entitled to any or the “medical retirement ” pay since it is a retirement ? I can not get any information from him as to the level of retirement or “cause” . So second question would be how do I find any information out. Any time he finds out I am looking into anything( we have one child together) he gets ugly .

    • Kate

      Leah, I am not an expert on Guard issues. However, I believe that Guard retiree pay is paid by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), just like active duty retired pay. If this is true, you can apply for your portion of his retirement pay to be sent directly to you.

      Also, the DFAS links have FAQs and attorney instructions that contain helpful information.

      Good luck to you!

  • Exwife D

    I am an ex military wife. My exhusband had been in the military for over 20+ years. He went to a marine corp basic ,then was in army national guard, then went active army in 1987. So I believe he is getting credit for 22 or 23 years of service. I got married to him in 1988. We got divorced in 2008. He retired the end of 2007. He not only is retired but he is also a veteran and now is 100% disabled between PTSD, his knees, and back. What benefits do I qualify for. I let my military ID expire and was getting health care from my job but now we have to pay for insurance and I can’t afford it. Do I have commisary/PX priveledges? Any dental plan? Military discounts? Thanks!

    • guest

      It is literally going to depend on the month you got married in 88 and the month you got divorced in 08, You have to be married to him for 20 years WHILE he was active duty to retain benefits. 19 years 11 month means you are NOT entitled to health care.

      100% disabled means that portion of his pay can’t be divided so if your divorce decree entitled you to X percent of his retirement pay, all of his disability pay is excluded from that sine disability payments are protected for the veteran by federal law.

  • Annie

    I am the widow of a World War II Veteran (active duty–served in Italy) Purple Heart We were married 15 years. I remarried and divorced. Am I eligible for assisted living, etc. benefits or any other kind of benefits? thank you

    • guest

      Since you remarried you are no longer eligible for Tricare/health benefits. Other benefits like commissary would depend on how long he was active duty while you were married. If he only served one term in WWII and wasn’t active duty for the full 15 years you were married then you wouldn’t be entitled to any benefits.

  • Judy

    my husband is retired from the military and we have been married for 34 years. I was with him for 15 years of his military service. he get VA disability benefits and Social Security Benefits and his military retirement. He left me and is currently paying the bills. He states that he does not have to give me anything if we legally separate or get divorced. My personal income is very small and there is no way I can afford to pay the bills without his help. Will the military allow him to make me become homeless after 34 years of marriage

    • Kate

      Judy, divorce is a civil issue and the military will not get involved in any divorce. I suggest that you get a good divorce attorney that understands the benefits received by military retirees.

      Whether you are eligible for any sort of support should be decided between the two of you. If you can not agree, then it will be up to the courts to decide. Without knowing your specific details, I can not speculate whether the court would rule that you are eligible for any sort of support. Please be aware, and be sure that your lawyer thoroughly understands, how military retirement is divisible as a marital asset.

      Also, if you were married for a FULL 15 years of his military service, you may be eligible for limited benefits under the 20/20/15 rule:

      Please take a chunk of time to learn everything there is to know about your situation. Good luck to you!

      • guest

        Should also point out that she can claim Social Security if she is of age based on his earnings.

    • chase

      How is the military responsible for any of this…he’s retired from the Military which means he’s no longer a part of it. If you worked a job and paid benefits to your husband while you worked and then left the job…do you really think your former employer is responsible for your husbands financial situation afterwards?

    • USFSPA Killer

      Technically, he’s right – the USFSPA is PERMISSIVE – not mandatory. However, most kangaroo divorce courts go to extreme measures to prevent a destitute former spouse from camping out on the public welfare stoop. But, you should really try to cut a deal with him before you go into court as both of you may not like the kangaroo court’s deal forced upon you.

  • Anne

    I’ve been married to my husband for 23 yrs. We are unfortunately going through a divorce. We have 3 children one of which is married. He’s drawn up the papers (I’m refusing to sign) and I’ll be receiving 50% of pension. He has made it perfectly clear to me that I’m not entitled to any of his disability check. My question being: when it comes to child support for our children are they entitled to his pension/disability to be figured into that on top of his civilian job?

    • Kate

      This is a tricky question, and there are many misconceptions about it. Child support should be calculated using all income, though details may vary from state to state. The confusion comes from the fact that there are laws that prevent garnishing of veterans benefits that are based upon disability. Many people believe that this means that benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs can not be used for child support. This is not true, and, in fact, there are ways to “apportion” veterans benefits to provide support to children.

      Please make sure you have your own lawyer who is very familiar with military pensions and veterans benefits. Just because your husband has drawn up papers does not mean that you have to agree to the terms he has included in his version of the divorce papers. You have the right to negotiate for terms that you want. This might include language that will compensate you for the offset of pension that will occur when/if he receives disability benefits. This is a tricky and important part of the law and requires an expert attorney to write properly. I receive many letters from former spouses who did not fight for themselves at the time of the divorce, and now regret that decision. Please don’t join that club.

    • USFSPA Killer

      Your husband doesn’t get a military “pension” – he gets military retired PAY – – there is a world of difference between a civie pension and military retired pay – and it’s NOT just “semantics” ! ! ! Military retired pay is reduced current pay and has to be legislated in the Defense budget every year or DFAS can not pay it. Retired pay is not contributory by the member or the gov’t. There is no “fund” being accumulated during the time a member is serving in the military, even if the member stays in past 20 years. A member must request transfer to the retired reserve and be approved. The ONLY one “entitled” to military retired PAY is the retired military member. He is right that he is the only one entitled to his disabilty comp. Unfortunately, a divorce court judge may have a dfferent opinion than his.

  • Lila

    Married for 20 years, he served 20 years in Air Force, now retired. I was married to him for the last 10 years of active duty service. We recently got divorced. I know I don’t meet the 20/20/20 or the 20/20/15 rule. My question is, does my Tricare benefit end immediately upon the divorce, is their a grace period? And do I have the option to stay with Tricare if I pay a fee?

    • guest

      Tricare ended at 12:01am the day after the divorce is finalized. There is no way to keep it without meeting 20/20/15 or 20/20/20

      • USFSPA Killer

        There is no TRICARE continuation unless the former spouse is a 20/20/20 overlap.

        • Kate

          This is incorrect. 20-20-15 spouses (20 years of marriage, 20 years of service, 15 years of overlap) retain Tricare benefits for 1 year if they do not have employer-sponsored health care coverage.

          You can read about this coverage at the Tricare website:

    • Bethany

      You may be eligible for the Continued Health Care Benefit Program. It has similar coverage to TriCare Standard, but it is for those who have recently become ineligible for TriCare. You do have to pay premiums. I think it’s about $1200 per quarter.

  • Jean Merriman

    My niece has been married to a retired Navy man for 3 years. He is planning to get a divorce–will she still be eligible for medical, commissary & PX privelidges? Thank You

    • Kate

      Mrs. Merriman, your niece’s military benefits will end when the divorce is final. She will be eligible to pay for continuing health care benefits via the DOD Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP). This is a premium based temporary health care coverage program for 36 months of coverage. Enrollment must occur within 60 days of losing military health care benefits. More information can be found at this web address:

  • Valerie

    question is…We have been married 17yrs of his 21yrs active duty. Should I consent to the Survivor Benefit Plan? Still not sure what this means.

    • Kate

      I am assuming that your husband is retiring, and you are deciding if the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) is the right choice for your family? You need to take some time and learn about it before making a decision. It is an important decision and it can not be changed after it is made.

      In my opinion, SBP is a great choice for most military families. It is basically a low-cost life insurance policy that converts to an annuity upon the death of the insured (the retiree.) It provides lifetime income that is inflation adjusted. It does require a monthly premium to be paid out of the retirement paycheck.

      There is information here at the Paycheck Chronicles about the Survivor Benefit Plan, and many other good resources across the internet.

      I hope that helps.

      • USFSPA Killer

        You should include in your offerings about the levels of SBP benefit that usually, not the FULL retired pay will be continued after the retiree’s death, but only if the monthly FULL premium is paid to capture the FULL retired pay amount ! Lesser monthly premiums mean lesser SBP benefit amounts ! There is no “single” monthly premium amount.

        • Kate

          Yes, USFSPA Killer, that is type of information is included in posts that talk about SBP, including the post linked in the comment above. Thanks!

  • Renae

    I have been married to my husband for 8 years, it will be 9 in March. He has been retired the entire time of our marriage. He has two previous spouses which the first wife get 1/2 of his retirement, the second gets none. What would i be entitled to if I file and successfully divorce?

    • Kate

      Renae, you are not “entitled” to anything. Each side, with their lawyer, will look at your overall financial situation and propose a division of property. Together, you will try to come to a division to which you can both agree. If you can not agree, it will be up to the judge to decide.

      From any perspective, I can’t imagine you receiving any portion of his military retirement. The general idea in most divorce settlements is to divide the assets that were obtained during the marriage, and that each person retains the assets that they brought to the marriage. Obviously, this is very dependent on individual situations, and no two settlements are the same. However, your husband obtained his military pension before you married. It wouldn’t make sense for you to be awarded a portion of the pension.

    • USFSPA Killer

      Renae – You were not married to him during his time on active duty. His 2nd spouse may have also been married to him after he retired. Neither of you are “eligible” (note not “entitled”) for any of his retired pay.

  • wise

    who do I seek immediate response on my ex=wife status of having military privileges to the exchanges and commissary and any other facilities.

    • Kate

      Wise, I’m not sure what you’re saying or asking. If you have questions about your ex-wife’s benefits, any and all information is available through numerous sources on the internet. I quite like the section on the National Military Family Association’s website:

      I hope that helps.

      • USFSPA Killer

        Many former spouse oriented groups pass only what is “best for the former spouse” – the BEST reference is read the law and go from there

    • Guest contributor

      Unless your ex was a 20/20/20 former spouse, she isn’t privilidged to any exchange, commissary or military facilities benefits.

  • MarGu

    I was married to an x-military man. His total lenght of service is probably 20 years. We got divorced in 2010. I was married to him for 6 months shy of 20 years. It was an uncontested divorce on my part. I gave up the custody of our children who are now 16 and 19. Realizing now why I agreed to uncontested divorce was the fear of getting physically hurt. He had threatened me not to ”go there’ when I mentioned prior to signing the divorce that I was thinking of getting a lawyer to represent me. I have not remarried ever since our divorce. He has full custody of the kids. What I want to know is, am I not entitled to any of his benefits since I have not remarried?

    • Kate

      MarGu, probably not. The 20-20-20 law allows an extension of benefits to spouses who were married for 20 years, whose military sponsor served for 20 years, and who had those two things overlap by 20 years.

      I don’t know if there is any way to reopen a divorce case – I don’t think so. It might be worth talking to a lawyer to ask them. Not only will they know the laws in your state but they will also know how the judges tend to interpret those laws.

      Good luck to you.

  • lisa

    my friend married a military man. he served for four year but now they are divorce. can she get any source of benefit from him

    • Kate

      A divorce is not a military issue. Any support or compensation has to be organized in the settlement agreement or divorce decree, depending on state law. Your friend is not eligible for any military benefits after her divorce.

  • Stephanie

    Hello, my ex and I getting a divorce after 17 yrs of being married. He retires in 1 1/2 yrs. from the army as an E7. how much will I be entitled to far as his retirement?

    • Kate

      Stephanie, you are not “entitled” to anything. The law permits you to be awarded whatever amount is agreed to by you and your husband (if you can hash out a settlement agreement) or by the courts if you and your husband can not agree. The division of retirement pay is complicated and includes many factors such as the Survivor Benefit Plan, disability compensation, etc. It is important that you each have a lawyer that knows military benefits very, very well. Good luck to you!

    • Kate

      Stephanie, you are not “entitled” to anything. The law permits the division of military retirement as a marital asset. Ideally, you and your husband will craft a settlement agreement between the two of you, perhaps with the help of a mediator. Otherwise, you will have to ask the courts to decide. (Details vary by state.)

      A good lawyer who understands military compensation will help you come up with a separation of assets that takes into consideration each parties’ contribution to the family’s income and assets, including not only military retirement but also other assets such as houses, cars, etc. Other things that must be considered are the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and disability compensation.

      In order to maximize the chances of having an equitable division of assets, you should each have a lawyer that understands military divorce.

      Please do not listen to anyone who tells you that you are entitled to any specific portion of your husband’s retirement pay. There are no rules or laws about this. The law only PERMITS division of retirement pay, it does not require it or specify amounts. It was designed to protect spouses who had been married for a very long time and had not worked or gone to school because they were specifically supporting their husband’s military career.

      Good luck to you.

  • Candid Copy

    Sorry to hear that this has happened. However, I do believe you are entitled to 1/2 of his retirement pay, because you were married over 10 years. Please don’t listen to “Barracks lawyers”. Make an appointment or walk into the post legal office and call the post fiancé office to find out exactly. I am retired military female and I have seen so many good spouses get messed over. Please take my advice. God Bless you! :)
    P.S. If anything, talk to the older spouses on post. They will most definitely stir you in the right direction. Avoid the FSG…everything kinda leaks from there!

    • Kate

      Candid Copy, this is not accurate. The only thing that happens at 10 years of marriage is that IF the support agreement or divorce decree specifies a division of retirement pay, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) is permitted to make payments directly to the next spouse.

      Base legal is not permitted to get involved with divorce, as it is a civilian issue. They can give very general advice. Anyone who is seeking a divorce, civilian or military, needs a good lawyer who understands all the details and ramifications of their particular situation.

      • USFSPA Killer

        Kate – DFAS payments go to the FORMER spouse, not the “next” spouse !

        • Kate

          Excellent catch of that typo. I’m surprised no one else mentioned it – it has been over half a year.

          I would edit it, but I don’t have that sort of control over comments.

    • USFSPA Killer

      Again, there is no “entitlement” in the USFSPA law. The only entitlement is that of the retired military member to draw military retired PAY – which is NOT a “pension” ! SHop around for advice – there are many opinions, just like there are “belly buttons” you must decide which of these paths could get you the most $$$$.

  • Pamela

    My husband was Army for 18 yrs and got out for no particular reason. I was his military wife for 15 of those years. He divorced me six years after we left the military. He is “buying back” his military retirement thru working at the post office & should retire soon. I remarried 3 years later to a retired Marine. I do have a dependent military ID card from my 2nd husband. I am presently disabled and am solely on medicare. I am concerned about the benefits I would receive, if any, upon the death of either?

    • Kate

      Pamela, you are not entitled to any benefits from your first husband for three reasons: he did not serve long enough, you were not married long enough, and you have remarried.

      If your second marriage ends in the death of your retired Marine husband, you will retain Tricare retiree health insurance (and then Tricare for Life), commissary and exchange privileges, and other base privileges. Whether you will have any income from his service depends. He was eligible to purchase Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) coverage to provide income after his death, but that election has to occur within one year of your marriage.

      In addition, if he is receiving VA disability benefits, you *might* be eligible for benefits after his death based upon the cause of death and it’s relationship to his military service.

      Good luck to you.

      • USFSPA Killer

        Kate – The “one year” is within/after the divorce is final, not after the former spouse remarries- it’s called a “deemed election”.

        • Kate

          This conversation is talking about the second husband, and the possibility of her receiving SBP benefits from that marriage. It is not talking about the first marriage.

          • USFSPA KIller

            Note Pamela’s last 5 words – “upon the death of either” She is talking about BOTH military husbands !

          • Kate

            USFSPA Killer – if I am reading Pamela’s comment correctly, her first husband did not serve long enough to retire from the military. SBP is not available without retirement pay.

            If she did not negotiate any other type of insurance coverage in her divorce settlement, it is unlikely that the courts will permit her to go back and change the settlement at this date.

  • Mitzi

    My husband and I are going through a divorce, we were married for 14 years then divorce but still lived together in Colorado and common law state, remarried 9 years ago. I need to know if I am entitled to any of his VA compensation, he is 100% UI. He states that he would live in poverty if I got any of he money. He has and income of $6228.00 and has to give me 1053.00 he has a total of $3154 in monthly bills, leaving him $3074 a month. that is not poverty. I’m asking for 1200 to 1500 per month. I’m I

    • Kate

      Mitzi, you’re asking a complicated question and one that is way beyond my qualifications, even if I had all of the necessary information, In a general sense, VA disability benefits are considered to be the sole property of the veteran. However, disability benefits can be taken into consideration when looking at a person’s entire income. Without knowing what other income each of you have, and what other relevant issues there might be, I can not speculate on whether your request is fair or appropriate.

      My first recommendation would be that you seek the services of a good lawyer, and then a mediator to try to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement. If not, you’ll have to see what the courts say. Honestly, the courts can be very fickle and I would try to reach an agreement outside of court.

      Good luck to you.

    • USFSPA Killer

      Your husbands VA comp is protected by federal law – 38 USC 5301. Kangaroo courts have indirectly ordered a VA comp recipient to “use any income stream to meet the court’s order for support” as to avoid being overruled by an appeals court if they were to directly order payments from VA Comp.

  • lORI

    Can anyone help me… I am the Fiancé’ of a now retired (20yrs) Army member and his ex wife and him were only married 13 years of his military career. During his divorce proceedings in 2008, 4 years before his date of retirement, she re-married…. Is she still entitled to a portion of his retirement pay or can he have it amended to last only 13 years.? Appreciate any feedback. I have been doing this research and cannot get anyone to answer me and he has obtained an attorney that has not one clue…sad… so we are trying every avenue to get an answer! Thanks for the feedback…ANYONE!!! :)

    • Kate

      IORI, it is very unusual for the terms of a divorce decree to be changed at a later date. There is no way to divide retirement pay for a certain period of time…that would have to be done as some other form of support such as alimony. If the settlement agreement or court order says that retirement pay is divided, then that is what will happen.

      While it seems an unlikely case, your fiance can try and see if he can have the settlement agreement changed. Of course, his ex-wife is likely to fight this request. At the very least, this will require a lawyer that thoroughly understand the law as it applies to military retirement pay.

      Please remember that this is not a military issue, but a civilian issue The only thing about it that has to do with the military is that it is a military pension that is being divided. It is just like the division of any other asset (house, car, business, etc.) Also, there is no “entitled” in the law. It is a matter of agreement between the two parties, or in the event they can not agree, the decision of the court. The law does not make any recommendations or suggestions regarding the division of retirement pay, it just says that retirement pay may be divided.

    • Sniz

      Yes, I have been married for 12 yrs to my ex military spouse. I am divorced now for 5 yrs, and he finally retired. He served 20, but yes I can remarry and will still get half of his retirement. I was told that by Dfas, On the other hand he retired and I can’t collect his retirement from Dfas, now that they say he is disabled , I have to try to collect with the VA. And I was told throughVA counsel that when I ask for financial help I have to do a application call a apportionment an even though I have two kids by him, I can’t say on my application I need child support, I need to state it differently and say I need financial help from my ex. So as of now that’s the process I am going through and I will be going after 401k or tsp or something to get my half of retirement some way from him, because I am still entitled to it.

      • guest

        Hate to break it to you, since you sound so absolutely vindictive, you CAN’T go after his TSP or 401k 5 years post divorce, that’s why it’s called a FINAL dissolution of marriage. Gook luck trying to get disability pay, it’s protected by federal law. You are entitled to half the retirement pay, NOT disability pay. If he is not receiving retirement pay, then you are entitled to 50% of absolutely ZERO outside of child support. Go get a dang job, I hope he hires a seriously good lawyer to protect the benefits HE earned from you.

  • vivienne

    I am married to a retired Navel Officer we separated over ten years ago but never got divorced I found out recently that he has died am I entitled to his Navy pension

    • Kate

      Vivienne, retired military pay ends with the death of the service member. If your husband and you selected the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) income continuation program at the time of his retirement, you may be eligible for SBP benefits. Your best bet is to contact the Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS) at, and apply for these benefits. They will then research whether he carried SBP coverage.

  • Kathy Little

    My father in law was in the army and retired after over 20 years of service. My husband’s mother was with my father-in-law during at least 20 years of active service. They were also married more than 20 years. Both my mother-in-law (she is no longer married and has not been for some time) and father-in-law got remarried (to other spouses) after he retired from the military. He has passed away (about two years ago). Is my mother-in-law eligible for anything at all (his second wife has also passed away). He told her that she was eligible for life insurance that he could not take her name off of (she hasn’t heard anything about that since his death) I am wondering, however, based on the 20/20/20 rule would she be eligible for anything else.

    • Kate

      Ms. Little, your mother-in-law certainly falls under the 20/20/20 rule. She lost the benefits available under this rule when she remarried, but if her subsequent marriage ended in divorce or death, some benefits may be reinstated. These include commissary and exchange shopping privileges and use of most base facilities. She will need to talk to the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) office at the closest military installation to figure out what documentation she will need to obtain a military identification card.

      With regard to life insurance, I can only help if she is talking about Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) or the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP.) VGLI is administered through the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the instructions for making a claim can be found here:

      Survivor Benefit Plan claims are made through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) and instructions for filing can be found here:

      Good luck!

  • JN

    Hi. I was married to my husband for 21 years. He was in the army for the first 14 years of our marriage before he medical out. Now he gets 100% disability thru va. I had two strokes a year ago and am trying to find out if I qualify for any benefits through him.

    • Kate

      JN, you are not eligible for any military-provided benefits such as medical coverage or commissary privileges. Any other benefits, such as a portion of retirement pay (if he was medically retired) would have been negotiated in the divorce settlement.

  • Heather

    My husband was in the military for 20 years. He was married to his ex-wife for 17 years of his military career. They are now divorced. We’ve been married for 5 years. She declined any payment from his retirement. However, she is still listed as a beneficiary. He’s under the impression that he cannot delete her as beneficiary and add me. Is that true? Now, she is saying that she wants 49% of his retirement. There is no court order in place at this time. Please advise – Heather.

    • Kate

      On what is she listed as a beneficiary? Your husband can change the beneficiary on his Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity or remaining retirement pay at any time, assuming that the divorce decree does not preclude that.

      If their divorce decree was well written, it would specify that she is not to receive any of his retirement pay. Unfortunately, most divorce decrees are not well written as they pertain to military benefits. While divorce decrees are final, in theory, I have heard of ex-spouses successfully reopening old cases, especially if they were closed before the Former Spouses Protection Act permitted the division of military retirement pay. I suggest that you find a lawyer who thoroughly understands military benefits and divorce. good luck!

      • Guest contributor

        Recheck your answer on saying that her husband can change the beneficiary on his SBP at anytime – but only with ONE CONDITION – that his ex-wife signs off on it or DFAS will NOT accept the change ! Only divorces finalized up to two years before the USFSPA was covertly passed through Congress, can be reopened to add a division of military retired pay if it wasn’t documented in the original order. As of now, 30 odd years later, it’s too late !

  • Cyn

    I fall under the 20/20/20 rule. We divorced after he retired. And I currently receive 50% of his retirement pension. And have been since our divorce 20 years ago. But there is no statement in our divorce degree that says anything at all about this arrangement. I simply applied to Dias and received it. Now I’m wondering if he has the right to take this away from me at any point, since our divorce papers don’t address this financial arrangement. Can he do that? Have the payments stopped at any point? I’m concerned, because he’s about to get remarried and talking about possibly stopping support to me.

    • Kate

      Cyn, I am very surprised that DFAS is paying you directly without a court order. They are not supposed to do that. Without knowing more information, I suspect that he would be able ask DFAS to stop paying you.

      • USFSPA Killer

        Cyn, DFAS would never start and continue to pay a garnishee amount only on the basis of just a DD Form 2293 application without a supporting court order attached. (Anyway he doesn’t get a retirement “pension”- he gets military retired PAY !) You must clairfy the actual situation so that beneficial thoughts can be shared

  • mary

    Do I have to wait until I am 55 to continue receiving my ex’s in order to get married?

    • Kate

      Mary, if you are talking about court-ordered separation of retirement pay, it is unaffected by remarriage (unless that is part of the agreement.)

  • mary


    • Guest contributor

      Are you mistakenly trying to discuss military retired pay by an incorrect name ?

  • d omalley

    i have a friend who served 20 years in the air guard he was killed before he he was able to retire, is his wife still able to retain her id card she never re married . are there any beeifits available to her

    • Kate

      I am not an expert on Air Guard benefits, and I suspect the answer depends on whether he died while on active duty. Your friend’s wife should check with the nearest Air Guard unit for more information. Good luck to her.

  • Roseanna

    Kate I am 73 years old. I am considering re marrying. I am a devorced wife that falls under the 20-20-20 rule. I receive medical & tri care for life. I also have an ID card that allows me Commisary, exchange privileges along with the medical.
    It seems that I read or heard that after 65 yrs old if I remarry I can keep my military ID for these privlages. Can you answer this?
    I never was awarded 50% of the retirement. Just the way the judge decided. At the time the McCarney versus McCartney issue was in the courts for divorce military men and their spouses. He won!!
    I am mainly interested in being able to keep my ID for shopping & medical. Or just even the Commisary/exchange.
    Thank you
    Beth V.

    • USFSPA Killer

      Roseanna – You should probably check with more than one source as “opinions” are just as plentiful as belly buttons and usually based upon the “some said that they…..blah, blah, blah, etc.”

      • USFSPA Killer

        Forgot to add – the correct court case is “McCarty v. McCarty”

    • Kate

      Hi Roseanne, Sorry that I did not reply earlier. If we get a lot of comments in a short period of time, I don’t see them all.

      Medical benefits (Tricare) cease upon remarriage, regardless of age, and can never be reinstated. Shopping and other base privileges cease with remarriage, but may be reinstated if the subsequent marriage ends in death or divorce.

      Here are two reputable sources that explain it in detail:

  • EVa

    My ex husband is receiving VA benefits. He was discharged with a diagnosis for Bipolar disorder and receives about $3000 tax free per month. He does not work. $700 of that is allocated for each of our children.He has been living out of state sending me $700 a month while withholding the other portion for himself. Both children have lived me for the past 4 and a half years.
    Our older one is now 18 so no more benefits. Our young ears one 14, is wanting to live with his dad now.
    My question is; is my ex able to demand I pay him child support at that point?

    • guest

      Yup…just like he had to pay you child support when the kids lived with you, you will have to pay child support if the one goes to live with him. Also, he’s not ‘witholding the other portion for himself”, he is no longer obligated to pay it because the other child is 18 now.

      I’m sure you were demanding child support when you divorced, sounds like you don’t like it now that the shoe is on the other foot. If the child is 14, the courts will ask him his opinion, and do what is in HIS best interest, you can’t force him to stay with you to avoid having to pay child support.

  • Chris

    I don’t think the military is fair in some situations. I was married for 12 yrs with two children, my ex always secretly mentioned that some people act coo- coo to get VA money. Well that’s what he is doing, so he’s been going to the doctor saying he can’t sleep and trying to act crazy. Long story short, I am supposed to get a half of retirement from DFAS but now that he is getting it through the VA. They said I cant. I don’t think it’s fair, if they owe half they owe half. I think it’s pretty disgusting that he is doing that because there are a lot of veterans that have actually put their life on the line. Now I’m looking at him buying new cars and homes, while I get700 for both children monthly and I work from check to check.

    • Kate

      Chris, your situation is a great example of why it is essential that the settlement agreement addresses all the variables, such as the receipt of VA benefits. There are thousands of reasons that your ex-husband might receive VA benefits – most veterans do receive some level of VA disability benefits. Settlement agreements need to reflect that very real possibility, or else the division of property will end up skewed when the VA benefits are factored in.

      This is not a military issue, it is federal law.

    • Guest

      You can go to your local department of Veterans Affairs and get assistance in getting a portion of his VA disability if you have custody of the child. Ask them what else you may be able to get for your child/children.

      Good luck!

      • Kate

        Great advice, Guest. I hadn’t considered the child support side of the issue.

  • Karen F.

    I live in a very small town of about 4,000 people and I know of 2 men locally doing the same thing. When it was time to go in for evaluation, no shaving or bathing for several days and wearing grubby military issue clothing; old field jacket, fatigue pants, etc. They got the idea from a friend in another state; all claiming PTSD from Viet Nam. One of these men was actually ‘asked to leave” the Marine Corp for possession of marijuana while in country!! So, they sit back in their favorite pub and wait for the 1st of the month to roll around. It’s an appalling situation when there are so many that truly deserve the benefits. Anyway, as far a military spouse benefits, we ‘former spouses’ often get the short end. I’m an ex of a 22 yr. military career receiving benefits but if I remarry, I lose it all. Yet, my ex is on his third marriage since our divorce and they were ALL entitled to the same benefits as me while they were married to him, yet I had to be married to him at least 20 yrs of his service to receive benefits! WHAT?! These women weren’t there for all the hardships the military life can present and I don’t feel they should reap the benefits. I think that’s why two of the women married him to begin with. Soooo many taking advantage of cracked system!

    • Guest

      Karen, when you say you lose it all, are you talking about the retirement entitlement as well? Marriage doesn’t void the portion of retirement you’re entitled to unless it was a stipulation in your divorce decree or ED, but you would lose the ID card and privileges and your Tricare. However, you would regain the ID card and privileges if you divorced or became a widow down the road….
      Just food for thought about your situation.

  • Don

    I recently got divorced. My wife was awarded 20% of my retirement from Active Regular Army after less than 10 yrs of marriage. If I leave the Regular Army join and reitire under a GS position or Active Guard Reserve (AGR) , would she still be enitiled to 20% of my retirement?

    • Kate

      Technically, that depends on the terms of your divorce agreement. If these situations weren’t discussed, so it would then be a matter of judgement, and possibly a court battle. If I had to guess, I would guess that a GS position would not fall under the terms of your settlement agreement, but AGR retirement pay would fall under the terms of your settlement agree. However, that is just an educated guess and I can’t imagine what a judge might actually say (nor have I read your settlement agreement.)

    • USFSPA Killer

      In the 1997 Defense Act, Congress closed that loophole by authorizing the Director of OPM to deduct and withhold from Civil Service retirement an amount equal to any amount awarded from military retired pay under the USFSPA.

      • Kate

        Very interesting. Do you have a link to that? I would love to learn more.

      • USFSPA Killer

        Here’s the link – Public Law 104-201, the 1997 NDAA

  • thomas

    In military-related family law, where does it state that if the Spouse was served before she reached the 20/20/20 rule does she receive benefits? I served my wife June 13, since then, she has not turned in her discovery paperwork, got caught with 2 hidden accounts and continues to defy the court by tap dancing to prolong the marriage until I reach 20 yrs active, which will be in 2 months. Does the clock stop when the paperwork is served?

    • Kate

      Thomas, the military only recognizes two marital statuses: married, or not married. You remain married until your divorce decree is finalized. Therefore, your wife will be eligible for 20-20-20 benefits if, after your divorce is finalized, if she meets the criteria (20 years of marriage, 20 years of military service, with 20 years of the marriage overlapping the military service.

  • Angela

    Hi Kate,

    I am officially divorced from a medically retired Marine. He has legally kidnapped my children and I by not allowing me to move back to where I am originally from despite the fact that the only reason I was here is due to him being stationed here. Please help me. He is diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and has a gun. The man does not receive treatment and has lost his mind. Please help me.

    • Kate

      Angela, what a stressful situation. I’m afraid I don’t have a clear picture of the situation, and there is little I could do to help. Does your divorce decree prevent you from moving? Could you petition the court that you feel he is dangerous?

      Please let us know how this unfolds, and I wish you the best of luck.

  • Nell

    Hi, I’ve been married for 30 yrs. I’m getting a divorce and I need to know if I get any benifits. My husband serviced 27 years in the military and is currently retired and receiving retirement pay.

    • USFSPA Killer

      You aren’t “entitled” to any benefits – You don’t share much info, but you may be a “20/20/20” former spouse after your divorce. If so, you’ll get your own ID card with the same privilidges that you have now. Even if you remarry, you won’t lose these privilildges. You will be your own sponsor – your then-to-be ex husband will not be responsible for you. Download DD Form 2293 – it’s the application for former spouse payments from military retired pay. YOU must sign it, no one else. Follow it’s directions exactly.

    • Kate

      Nell, if your marriage overlapped your husband’s military service by 20 years, then you are entitled to continuing military benefits under the 20/20/20 rule. This includes commissary and exchange shopping privileges, use of other base facilities such as the gym, and Tricare medical coverage IF you do not have employer-sponsored medical care.

      20/20/20 benefits are lost if you remarry. The loss of Tricare coverage is permanent, but other privileges may be reinstated if the subsequent marriage ends in death or divorce.

      In addition, you can negotiate the division of your marital property, including real estate, cars, savings accounts, investments, pensions, and military retirement pay. I recommend mediation to minimize the expense and increase the satisfaction with the outcome.

      • USFSPA Killer

        Kate – If Nell remarries either an active duty military person or a military retiree, she will gain ALL benefits as a then-current spouse.

        • Kate

          Yes, that is true, but unrelated to her current situation. 20/20/20 benefits are lost with remarriage. Any benefits gained from a subsequent marriage, whether military benefits or civilian benefits, are completely separate..

          It is statistically more likely that any subsequent remarriage would be to someone who does not have military benefits, and it is important to understand how remarriage affects current benefits.

          • USFSPA Killer

            Ever heard of the “the truth, the WHOLE truth …..” statement ? She should be made aware of the only way to rightfully receive all the current spouse benefits she previously had, even though it would be through a new military sponsor. Yes, it’s her choice on who to marry after a divorce.

          • Kate

            Actually, from an educational perspective, it is distracting and not helpful to bring in extraneous information. The common saying that appies is “Keep it Simple, Silly.”

            The original commenter, Nell, rightfully maintains her military spouse benefits after divorce due to the 20/20/20 rule (assuming that their marriage overlapped miltiary service by 20 years.) She will lose those benefits if she remarries.

            If she were to remarry, and that subsequent remarriage were to an active duty service member or military retiree, she would “gain” benefits due to that marriage.

            I’m not repeating this for your benefit, but for the benefit of those reading these comments to ensure that there is no confusion.

          • USFSPA Killer

            You can always drop off this blog and go to Dr. Phil !

  • Judith oliver

    I was married to my ex husband for 20 yrs he did 17 yes in the Army he got out on a medical i was awarded lifetime Alimony in the amount of 1,300 a month he has not paid me in 4 yrs I can’t afford a lawyer I wanna know how I can go about getting my money please help me

    • USFSPA Killer

      Judith – First of all, he was retired under “Chapter 61” so he is not a Chapter 10, “20 year” retiree. His disability retirement is called PDRL – Permanent Disability Retired List – the Army active duty pay disbursing office pays him; he doesn’t get paid “over 20” retired pay from DFAS in Cleveland, Ohio. DFAS won’t accept a Form 2293, neither will the Army active duty pay disbursing office accept that form either. Does your dvorce specifically use the two words “lifetime alimony” ? What state is your divorce from ?

  • morie yearby

    I was married to a vet for 25 years, he later remarried his wife died, I am 60 years old, our marriage was the 1st for both of us, neither one of us are married now, he is receiving 100% disability benefits am I entitled to receive any benefits?

    • USFSPA Killer

      Moire – Dig out your divorce decree from your marriage to him. That’s a starting point for right now. You’ll need to enlarge on your question – Was he a 20+year retiree; or was he retired with less than 20 years; or is he gettitng VA Disability Compensation ? Does your divorce decree award you any share of his retired pay or benefits ? Your question is too vague right now to give you any specific answers.

  • Guest contributor

    Read USFSPA Killer’s reply to your first posting of your question.

  • thomas

    I have been trying to divorce my wife since 03 Jun 13, she will not turn in her paperwork, she will not submit financial docs in a timely manner and she has not done her taxes in 3yrs. This has been continual during this whole court thing now, she is calling or emailing my command trying to get me kicked out or demoted at least 2X a month. Because of this, I have had a 15-6 investigation done on me, which by the way she keeps calling for the results, and several counselings. This is not my doing, she was the one caught cheating yet I am the one under the microscope. Is this harassment, if it is, what is the reg and how do I make it stop?

    • USFSPA Killer

      See a lawyer – FAST !

  • Sue

    My son is about to go into the Navy. He is divorced and has a baby. I know the baby will qualify for benefits, but will the ex-wife be entitled to anything? (Such as medical services, commissary, etc.)

    • Guest contributor

      Nada, zip, zero if they are already divorced. The baby is entitled to the usual dependant benefits. He needs to register the baby in DEERS with his recruiter or his first duty station after “boot camp” with the baby’s birth certificate. Normally, kids under 10 don’t require an ID card, but this will be the Navy’s judgment call as to issuing the baby an ID card, which his ex (baby’s mom) will have. The baby is entitled to Commissary and exchange but NOT “Mom”. She’ll have to show the baby’s ID card at the Commissary cash register, so if she’s buying things that are obviously not for the baby, she may get refused from purchasing those items.

  • Theresa Smith

    Hello – I was married for 26 years to my exhusband. We are now divorced and I have been told that I should be receiving monthly payments from him. He would not show his pay stubs in court and finally the judge just granted my divorce. Am I entitled to any funds. We also have a son who is 25 now, but has not received anything from his dad as well


    • Kate

      Theresa, you should be receiving whatever was negotiated as part of the property settlement in your divorce. If you did not negotiate any sort of alimony, maintenance, or division of retired military pay, then you can not go back and ask for it now.

      Your son is an adult, and would not likely be eligible for any support from your ex-husband unless he is disabled. Child support, if he was a minor at the time of the divorce, would have been decided by the courts at that time.

      If your husband served in the military for 20 years, and your marriage and the service overlapped by 20 years, you are eligible for 20-20-20 benefit from the military that include Tricare health coverage, commissary and exchange shopping privileges, and the right to use base facilities such as the gym, etc.

    • Guest contributor

      Theresa – It’s astonishing that the judge let your ex-hubby refuse to show pay stubs without holding him in contempt. You probably should contact your lawyer and suggest that your ex-hubby was hiding assets – this might be a valid reason to re-open the divorce. Alternatively, ask your lawyer if the court can get this info direct from DFAS by court order.

  • Maria Elena Blanka

    I’ve been married for over 30yrs. been receiving 50% of his retirement. My question is…He is living overseas and remarried. He has cancer and says he doesn’t have long to live. On my divorce decree it states I will receive Survivor Benefits when he passes. He has paid for SBP all these yrs. He wants his current wife to receive the SBP. Who do I notify upon his death
    Thank you for your time.

    • Guest contributor

      You’ll need to call DFAS-Cleveland at 1-888-332-7411 and report the death of a retiree. He can “want” to have his current wife get his SBP, but if your divorce decree says you will get it, then DFAS will send it to you!

    • Kate

      Maria, I suggest you contact DFAS to ensure that his SBP payments are properly assigned to you. If they are not, it will be much easier to fix while he is still alive. If you have a court order assigning SBP benefits to you, he can not legally change them to his current wife. However, DFAS can not enforce a court order if it is does not know about it. It may take some phone calls and faxes and sending of the court order, but you really want to make sure that it is all straight. Good luck to you!!

      • Guest contributor

        Kate – Thanks for the additional info to help Maria. Since her ex is overseas, it may be difficult at best to learn of his passing shortly thereafter.

  • Brenda

    I was married to a 100% Medically disabled vet for over 10 years. He was granted these benefits during our marriage. I became disabled during the marriage. We divorced due to domestic violence on his part. Am I entitled to any benefits at all? I am turning 62 in January 2016. The divorce was final July 2014. Thank you for your response

    • USFSPA Killer

      Brenda – You’ll need to enlarge upon your chapter and verse for a more substantial answer. For instance, How long was he in the military?; Did he retire with at least 20 years?; How long did your marriage over lap his service time? Was he convicted of domestic violence ? You’ll be able to claim Early Social Security retirement when you turn 62 – you can apply in October 2015.

  • Chase

    Interesting to see so many people trying their hearts out to get money from veterans, trying to see just how much money they can take and how much they can get away with. VA Disability cannot be taxed, garnished or otherwise affected in any way, shape or form from a Veteran, Federal Law Prohibits it.

    • USFSPA Killer

      Have you been living under a rock ? Judges will order the vet “to use any OTHER income source to meet the court order” – if you read between the lines there, it means they HAVE to use their VA Disability to fund the court order ! – It’s called judges doing INdirectly what they can’t do DIrectly. !

  • Denise

    My daughter and son-in-law are divorcing. They have been married 11 years; he was medically retired after 6 years with combat injuries/issues. They have their medical ID cards. He left her and is not paying any support while awaiting the divorce. She had to move out of her house and in with us (her parents). Since he is medically retired with 90% disability, will my daughter be able to keep her medical card and ID card after the divorce? I am aware of the 20-20-20 rule, but hopeful that there are exceptions in cases like his where he is medically retired and drawing a pension after 6 years’ service.

    • USFSPA Killer

      You basically answered your own question – the marriage MUST be a 20/20/20 situation ONLY for the former spouse to keep an ID Card. By-the-by, he will not be drawing a “penison” – he will get PDRL – Permanent Disability Retired List PAY – which is NOT a “pension” (which regular 20-year retired pay isn’t a “pension” either !) Your daughter must turn in her ID card the day after the divorce is final – federal law.

      • Denise

        Thank you; her biggest concern is that she has extensive medical problems and has had over 15 surgeries, and cannot work; so of course medical benefits are her biggest worry.

        • Guest contributor

          Your daughter should consider applying for SSI or SSDI as the case may be, if she hasn’t already.

          • Denise

            She is now, thanks. She never filed before because she felt it would be “double dipping” and not right. Thought that since she already had medical benefits and married, she shouldn’t file for other Govt benefits.

          • Guest contributor

            As long as a written law allows it and doesn’t pay only the highest of multiple benefits, why not apply ? It’s in the law to be applied for and used – !

  • Kathy

    My husband is getting SSDI for PTSD at 100%. He is also getting SSI, and so altogether approximately $4300 per month. He is 45 years old, and I am 49, but recently told me he wants a divorce. I have been working the entire time, he got his back pay in 2011 and has been receiving money every month.
    We have only been married 9 years.

    He was in the Army for 3 and then went into the National Guard to Iraq for 1. I had taken out three various savings accounts and my retirement to the tune of $100,000 to assist him in court when he embezzled money as a Parole Officer(he went to tent city for 10 days and is now a convicted felon) from the state of AZ before he started receiving his SSDI money.
    Before I digress any more, I am wondering if there is any way to get any money back from giving up my retirement and my savings that I took out for “us”?

    Yes, I know a sucker is born every minute, and I live and breathe those words every day, now.

    PS I have never asked for a card for the commissary, medical benefits, etc. I suppose I’m not entitled to anything like that? If there is any other info you need, let me know, and I will fill in the blanks…


  • Yvette Knight

    Am I eligible for my ex husband VA loan. I’m 20/20/20.