Splitting military retirement can be complicated

Q: My ex-husband entered the active army in 1973. We were mar­ried in 1974. He was active duty for 3 years; from 1976 to 1995 he was in the reserves. In 1995 he went into the AGR and is plan­ning to retire in 2013 as an O6 with an active fed­eral retire­ment. We were divorced in 2007 after 34 years of mar­riage. Our divorce decree states that I am to get 50% of the retire­ment he earned while mar­ried plus SBP. I am on track with all the paper­work accord­ing to the For­mer Spouse Divi­sion in Cleve­land DFAS. My ques­tion is, how can I cal­cu­late what my monthly check will be in 2013 so I can work with my finan­cial planners?

–San­dra, Wester, Ohio

A: That’s a very good and forward-thinking ques­tion. Unfor­tu­nately, you have not pro­vided enough infor­ma­tion for me to pro­vide an accu­rate esti­mate. If we assume 26 years of active ser­vice (21 on Active Duty or AGR and 5 equiv­a­lent years from his time in the reserves), O-6, and 3% infla­tion, his monthly retire­ment pay check in 2013 will be approx­i­mately $7,000. You can use the cal­cu­la­tor at the Office of the Sec­re­tary of Defense web­site to deter­mine his retired pay.

How­ever, for you, the more impor­tant ques­tion is how much will your ben­e­fit be worth and how will it be cal­cu­lated? You need to head back to your attor­ney to clar­ify the answers to these ques­tions. It’s more com­pli­cated since you were mar­ried both dur­ing reserve and active duty ser­vice. It almost seems as if your divorce decree was writ­ten purely for reserve retire­ment (in which points deter­mine retire­ment ben­e­fit and points earned while mar­ried divided by total points, is an easy cal­cu­la­tion). Talk­ing with a finan­cial plan­ner is a good thing and find­ing out exactly what you can count on are all pos­i­tive steps as you plan out your retire­ment. I do know that you don’t want a sur­prise in 2013, so start knockin’ on your attorney’s and DFAS’ door for more specifics. Good luck!

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4 responses to “Splitting military retirement can be complicated”

  1. My finance is get­ting ready to retire and we will not get mar­ried until after he retires, will he be able to add me to his insur­ance after he retires?

  2. WAd I’m the army reserve from 1970–1975
    Am I enti­tled to any benefits

  3. My hus­band and I are going through a divorce and my attor­ney says he is retir­ing as a reservist, but my hus­band says he is retir­ing active duty. He has 14 cred­itable years of ser­vice while we were mar­ried or 4959 points at the point of our seper­a­tion 5 years ago. How can I find out if the for­mula in my divorce decree needs to be cal­cu­lated my months or points?

  4. Sorry, I for­got to men­tion that he is AGR right now and has been active duty prior to his AGR assign­ment in the National Guard. My lawyer states that because he is Active Guard “Reserve” it is con­sid­ered a reserve retire­ment, but my hus­band states that AGR is con­sid­ered active duty.

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