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Military divorce and key dates of the 20-20-15 rule

Members and former members of the military who are stationed in Virginia or live there after their service has ended could face the prospect of a divorce. Along with the general complications of such a situation, it can be difficult for the non-military spouse to prepare for the future not knowing how their medical coverage and other military privileges will be addressed once the process is completed. There are certain scenarios that dictate how the non-military former spouse will be granted privileges and for how long. Understanding what the rules are for TRICARE medical coverage is important.

This is especially true for those facing a 20-20-15 scenario. Non-military former spouses will remain listed for TRICARE on their Social Security number if their sponsor had 20 years of service when retirement pay is determined; the couple was married for a minimum of 20 years; and 15 of the years overlap within the 20 creditable years of military service for retirement benefits. This can be active duty or as a reservist.

The date the marriage ended will be a key factor in how long they will retain TRICARE. For those whose marriage ended prior to April 1, 1985, they will be eligible for care from January 1, 1985 or the date the divorce was completed, whichever comes last. They will retain eligibility for the duration that they still meet the requirements. For those who divorced between April 1, 1985 and September 28, 1988, they can receive care from the date of the divorce through December 31, 1988 or two years from the date of the decree, whichever is last. If the divorce was completed from September 29, 1988 onward, they retain TRICARE eligibility for one year from the date the case was completed.

Obviously, the first two dates are irrelevant for those who are getting a divorce or are considering a divorce currently. However, the information is key to understand how 20-20-15 functions. Those who are thinking about a divorce should know these rules and prepare accordingly, as health care will be a concern in a military divorce.

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