The United States military recognizes the status of military Servicemembers and their dependants, and even past spouses of military Servicemembers maintain some benefit rights. There are a number of different ways that being the former spouse of a military Servicemember can retain privileges for benefits. These benefits can be for everything from medical benefits, to using the commissary, to benefits for the military PX. The times that Full benefits are afforded to a spouse of a military Servicemember include: the spouse and Servicemember had been married at least 20 years while the Servicemember was on active duty, the former spouse is not remarried, and there is a 20 year overlap on the marriage and the military Active duty service.
Do You Qualify?
The military even has a term for this; they are called 20/20/20 military former spouses. To qualify for full benefits the former spouses have to meet all three conditions and remain not married while they receive the benefits. Also if a former spouse qualifies for benefits from their own employment for medical coverage then they do not qualify for medical military benefit coverage. But otherwise, they do qualify for full military spouse benefits if they meet the full three conditions, the same as if they were still a military married spouse. If they retire or their other medical coverage ceases then they qualify for full medical military coverage the same as if they were still a military married spouse, their medical coverage can be applied for and reinstated.
Once the former spouse remarries they no longer qualify for any military privileges or benefits. If the new marriage ends by divorce or death sometimes their previous auxiliary benefits such as commissary, theater and base exchange can sometime be reinstated. But military medical privileges in this case cannot be restarted once ended for marriage reasons.
If a former military spouse was divorced sometime before April 1985 but otherwise meets the qualifications for the military spouse 20/20/20 sometimes there are only partial privileges possible. If the former spouse qualifies only with:
-The married parties were together less than 20 years.
-The Servicemember completed 20 years or more active duty service.
-Only 15 year overlap between the marriage and military service.
In this situation there are only limited benefits. The benefits include no base exchange, no commissary, no theater, and a 4-year ID card that gives only medical benefits. Former Spouses who qualify for limited benefits that end their marriage between April 1985 and September 1988 are allowed medical coverage for two years.
BERNADITA FLEMING says
Why can a former spouse keep the full benefits after marrying the Service member for 18 1/2 during his 22 years of service. Divorce after 34 years of marriages. I think its unjustice for the former spouse since they are older and need the medical care.
Robert Mills says
The last time I checked, dependants that are married to Soldiers are covered as they should be. If said couple seperate and divorce, there is no reason to continue to cover former spouses with any benefits, there is nothing preventing spouses to seek thier own careers, schooling, and retirment plans. Its simple the wives are not in the military, have not earned any benefits by proxy just for being once married to a soldier. I certainly did not see any former spouses slugging it out in Iraq for the rights to these benefits, the veteran or soldier earn those, they are strictly thier earned entitlement. This is a waste of money to continue to pay “former” spouses that being the key word “former”, it should also read former benefits as well for the sake of cutting the budget. Truely wasteful to continue to pay this money out that have no attachement to the military.
Becky Haire says
My issue is why should a new spouse and her dependents, if there are any, be elgible for military health care benefits when she marrys a retiree? But yet, a military former spouse who spent over 20 years taking care of the home front can not remarry without losing the benefits? So many women with fatherless children are latching on to the retiree just for that purpose. With all the military cut backs, to change the law as to where no new spouses or children that are not biologically the service member would not be entitle to any military dependent benefits of retirees would save quite a bit of money. Either that, or change the law that a former 20/20/20 military spouse gets to keep her benefits even if she remarrys.
My divorce creed states that my former spouse’s military pension is partly separate and partly community. So I am confused about the 20/20/15 term. If I was married only 15 yrs and out of the 15 yrs he was in the service. Does that mean I wont get partly his pension?
Oh, and he did retire at 20yrs, five yrs later. But I heard medically discharged.