Military members who are married may be wondering what happens to their benefits if they get divorced or if their spouse dies. The good news is that most military benefits are transferable to a new spouse, but there are a few exceptions. In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of military benefits and what happens to them when a service member remarries.
Before proceeding, remember that this is not legal advice. We recommend consulting with a lawyer knowledgeable in military law to help with your specific situation.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) and the US Veterans Administration (VA) offer tax-free military pensions to veterans and their spouses. These are:
- Legacy High-3 (High-36) Pension (DOD)
- Veterans Pension (VA)
- Survivors Pension (VA)
There are different qualifications required to be eligible for these pensions.
These different pension plans have different rules with regard to divorce and remarriage. In case of divorce, military pensions are viewed as “marital assets” that are divided as part of the divorce settlement. A court dictates this and it’s possible for a spouse to continue receiving a military pension after a divorce. But what if they remarry?
Legacy High-3 Pension terminates upon re-marriage but may resume if the 2nd marriage ends. Continuance of Veterans Pension after remarriage is trickier. This depends on your personal circumstances, so if you have this type of pension, it’s best to consult with a lawyer. Finally, Survivors Pension ends once a military spouse remarries. It can only be reinstated if the 2nd marriage is annulled or declared void.
Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
Generally speaking, a spouse who remarries will no longer be entitled to collect Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) or Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payments. SBP is a retirement plan offered by the military, and DIC is a benefit paid to survivors of service members who die in the line of duty. A surviving spouse can only receive one of these benefits. In case the spouse is entitled to both, Congress created the “Special Spouse Indemnity Allowance (SSIA)” or the SBP/DIC offset.
If a spouse remarries after age 55, they may still be eligible for SBP or DIC benefits. Likewise, if a spouse remarries someone who is also entitled to SBP benefits, they may still be able to collect payments. SBP payments can resume if the 2nd marriage is terminated through divorce or death. It’s important to note that these rules can change, so it’s always best to check with the relevant agency before making any decisions.
It is clear from military rules that an ex-military spouse who remarries loses all non-monetary benefits he or she accrued from their former service member spouse. This includes Tricare, commissary, exchange, or MWR benefits.
Should You Remarry?
Choosing to remarry is a personal decision. However, there are economic implications especially if you are receiving military benefits. Always consult with your lawyer before making a final decision.
If you want to read more about military life and its benefits, check out PA Guard’s other resources.