Zachary A. VanDyke, PA
Panama City Attorney
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Can I keep medical coverage in a military divorce?

When a military couple in Florida decides to divorce, there are certain issues that must be taken into consideration. For example, the military health coverage under TRICARE might be affected for non-service members. There are certain criteria that dictate whether the former spouse will continue receiving benefits and for how long. With a divorcing military couple, it is important to understand the federal laws and how military benefits might be impacted.

With TRICARE, there are the following rules: 20-20-20 and 20-20-15. With 20-20-20, the non-military spouse will be able to retain benefits under his or her own Social Security number provided certain criteria are met. They are the following: the sponsor has a minimum of 20 years of creditable service for determining retirement pay, the couple was married for a minimum of 20 years and the 20 years overlap those 20 years of creditable service counting toward the service member's retirement. When the marriage ends and it is determined that the former spouse meets 20-20-20, a new identification card will be provided. It will have his or her own name and Social Security number.

For 20-20-15, the non-military former spouse will have the benefits under his or her own Social Security number in the following circumstances: the sponsor had a minimum of 20 years of creditable service in determining retirement pay, he or she was married to the same military member for a minimum of 20 years, 15 of the years overlap with the 20 creditable years that count toward the service member's retirement.

With 20-20-15, the time at which the marriage ended is important. If it ended before April 1, 1985, the non-service member spouse can receive care on or after January 1, 1985 or the date when the marriage ended, whichever is first. If the marriage ended between April 1, 1985 and September 28, 1988, the non-service member is eligible for coverage from the date of the marriage's end to December 31, 1988 or two years from the date of the end of the marriage, whichever came last. Finally, if the divorce came after September 29, 1988, the non-service member has eligibility for one year from the date of the marriage's end.

Military divorce is different from a civilian divorce and there are a great many concerns that a couple can have. The impact of a divorce on military benefits can be significant and those who are moving forward with the end of a marriage need to know about them. Discussing the case with an attorney who is experienced in military matters is a key to dealing with these situations.

Source: Tricare.mil, "Former Spouses," accessed on Dec. 27, 2016

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Zachary A. Vandyke, P.A.
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Panama City, FL 32401

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