Maggio Law Firm, PC

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Military benefits, medical coverage and the 20-20-15 rule

For residents of Mississippi who are getting a divorce, an issue that is of frequent concern is how their health care status will be determined once the case is finalized. While the law has certain guidelines, those in the military have different rules. Knowing about this before the military divorce can avoid any confusion and problems later.

A former spouse of a military member, who has not remarried, will be eligible for TRICARE coverage using their own Social Security number to retain medical benefits under the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). The information will be under the non-military spouse's name and Social Security number, and this will be used to file claims and make appointments. There are two categories for which a person can be eligible for TRICARE. In both, the military member must have been in the service for a minimum of 20 years. One rule is the 20-20-20 rule. However, this post will deal with those who fall under the 20-20-15 rule.

The non-military former spouse will be able to use his or her own Social Security number if the sponsor was in the military for 20 years; if the couple was married for at least 20 years; and if 15 of the years overlap the 20 year requirement on active or reserve duty toward retirement pay. The date the marriage ended is also relevant. The former spouse can receive care on or after January 1, 1985, or the date of the divorce or annulment if it ended before April 1, 1985. If the marriage ended between April 1, 1985, and September 28, 1988, the person was eligible from the date the marriage the date of the divorce until December 31, 1988, or two years from the date of the decree, whichever is later. A person who was divorced or the marriage was annulled on or after September 29, 1988, was eligible for TRICARE for one year from the date in which the marriage ended.

With military regulations, military benefits and family law matters, the issues can be somewhat confusing. This is especially true with the way health care has become a hot button issue. If there is any problem with understanding military family law and the 20-20-15 rule, speaking to a legal professional can provide assistance with the situation.

Source:, "Former Spouses -- Scenario 2: The '20-20-15' Rule," accessed on July 19, 2016

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