Divorce, Social Security, and Military Retirement

Divorce, Social Security, and Military Retirement

Q: I am a retiree with 23 years [mil­i­tary] ser­vice. After I retired I went through a divorce. I was mar­ried 20 years. My ex-wife gets 35 per­cent of my retired pay and I also agreed to con­tinue SBP cov­er­age for her. I have since remar­ried (2 years). My questions: 1. If my ex-wife pre­de­ceases me will I be able to name my cur­rent wife as the ben­e­fi­ciary on the SBP?

2. Related to the first ques­tion, if my ex pre­de­ceases me can she in her “will,” will the 35 per­cent retired pay to some­one else as “prop­erty” or does it revert back to me?

3. In regards to my social secu­rity ben­e­fits, if I pre­de­cease my ex and cur­rent wife, who can make a claim against my Social Secu­rity ben­e­fits? I have no depen­dant children.

–Car­los, Hud­son, N. H.

A: Well, you’ve got some great, fairly tech­ni­cal ques­tions. And I love it that you’re think­ing through things so you may plan bet­ter. This finan­cial plan­ner likes that! The source for these types of ques­tions is Defense Finance and Account­ing Ser­vice (DFAS). The DFAS Fre­quently Asked Ques­tions on SBP runs through sev­eral sce­nar­ios for you. Here’s my understanding:

1. You may be able to change your SBP cov­er­age to your cur­rent wife right now, but only if you vol­un­tar­ily pro­vide SBP cov­er­age for her. It could not have been required by a court order or divorce decree to pro­vide “for­mer spouse cov­er­age.” So if you set up for­mer spouse cov­er­age vol­un­tar­ily, you just need to con­tact DFAS in writ­ing and change the cov­er­age to your new wife. Oth­er­wise, if your for­mer spouse pre­de­ceases you, you could switch cov­er­age to your new wife using Form 2656–6.

2. Despite retired pay being treated as mar­i­tal prop­erty dur­ing the divorce pro­ceed­ings, your ex-spouse’s right to pay­ments ter­mi­nates at her death…in other words, she can­not pass that pen­sion on to some­one else.

3. Finally, when it comes to Social Secu­rity, your ex-wife should be eli­gi­ble to receive ben­e­fits as a divorced spouse based on your earn­ings record. To qual­ify your mar­riage to your ex had to have lasted 10 years (check) and she must remain unmar­ried (don’t know about that one). But the good news is that your cur­rent spouse should also be able to col­lect Social Secu­rity on your record, too, as long as you’re mar­ried nine months or longer (check) Here’s a link to infor­ma­tion on this topic at the Social Secu­rity website.

Article Source:  Military.com
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