There are many residents of California who are former members of the U.S. military. For many of these veterans and their families, there are concerns about how a military divorce affects the benefits they receive as a dependent of a service member. An important benefit that concerns many during these times is medical coverage through TRICARE. Understanding eligibility requirements can help a person who is divorcing plan for the future.
There are two scenarios under which a person is eligible to receive TRICARE under his or her own Social Security number. They are the 20-20-20 Rule and the 20-20-15 Rule. With 20-20-20, the person's sponsor must have had a minimum of 20 years of creditable service toward the determination of retirement pay; they must have been married for a minimum of 20 years; and the 20 years must overlap with the 20 years of creditable service - whether it was active military or as a reservist - that count toward the retirement.
With the 20-20-15 Rule, the sponsor must have had a minimum of 20 years of creditable service; the couple must have been married for a minimum of 20 years; and 15 of those years must have overlapped with the 20 years of service - also either active or as a reserve - counting towards the retirement. With 20-20-15, the date when the marriage ended is key. If it ended prior to April 1, 1985, the person will be eligible for care that was received on the date of the divorce or on January 1, 1985, whichever came last. If the marriage ended between April 1, 1985 and September 28, 1988, the person is eligible for the care from the date of the divorce through December 31, 1988, or two years from the date of the divorce decree, whichever was later. Finally, if the marriage ended on or after September 29, 1988, the person is eligible for TRICARE one year after the marriage ended in divorce or annulment.
Ending a marriage can be difficult, but it is more difficult for those who were married to service members when they are concerned about their military benefits. It is important to have a firm grasp on the ins and outs of a military divorce case.