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Explaining the 20/20/20 Rule

The families of servicemen and women in San Antonio enjoy a number of benefits provided by the military. As is the case when most couples divorce, non-military spouses may often wonder if any of those benefits continue after their separations. Information recently reported in USA Today showed that in 2011, the divorce rate amongst military families reached its highest levels in nearly 12 years. As such, it may benefit for non-military spouses to understand what their benefits rights are if they are considering a divorce.

According to the website MilitaryOneSource.mil, whether or not a non-military spouse is entitled to continued military benefits depends largely on the “20/20/20 Rule.” The stipulations of this rule are that the divorcing military member must have served for a minimum of 20 years creditable toward retirement pay. He or she must also have been married for at least 20 years of that service. Finally, the marriage must have a lasted for 20 years overall. If these three criteria are met, then the non-military spouse can continue to receive regular military benefits after a divorce, including

  •          Full commissary
  •          Military exchange
  •          Health care benefits through TRICARE

If a marriage meets the 20-year requirement for full military service and duration, yet the couple was not married during the full 20 years of the member’s service, the non-military spouse still may be entitled to some benefits provided their marriage overlapped the member’s service for 15 years. In that case, he or she would lose access to exchange and commissary privileges, yet would retain TRICARE benefits for a one-year transition period.

The children of divorced military families retain their TRICARE benefits until the age of 21. The exception to this would be if a step-parent claimed them as a dependent.  

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