20/20/20 defined

Q: In the 20/20/20 pro­gram, what does the last 20 mean? What is being said by overlapping?

–William, Las Vegas, Nev.

A: For those unfa­mil­iar, the “20/20/20” rule is used to deter­mine if a for­mer spouse is a depen­dent and thus enti­tled to all mil­i­tary benefits…from health­care to com­mis­sary priv­i­leges and every­thing in between. The three “20’s” mean the for­mer spouse needs to have been mar­ried to the ser­vice mem­ber for 20 years, the ser­vice mem­ber had at least 20 years of ser­vice cred­itable towards retire­ment, and there had to be at least 20 years where the mar­riage and the cred­itable ser­vice over­lapped. “Over­lapped” means the two were mar­ried and in cred­itable mil­i­tary ser­vice at the same time. If the for­mer spouse meets these qual­i­fi­ca­tions he or she would be enti­tled to full mil­i­tary ben­e­fits. How­ever, upon remar­riage the for­mer spouse would per­ma­nently lose med­ical ben­e­fits. All other ben­e­fits could be recov­ered if the mar­riage ends in death or divorce. Hope that clears it up for you!

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43 responses to “20/20/20 defined”

  1. I am a for­mer mil­i­tary spouse. I have the 20/20/20 ben­e­fits. We have been divorced for 29 years and I am now 70 years old. It has been very nice hav­ing these ben­e­fits. What would hap­pen with these ben­e­fits once my for­mer hus­band– the retired mil­i­tary mem­ber dies and I am still alive? (I am con­cerned about the Health Tri Care ben­e­fits espe­cially.) I under­stand that I will no longer receive the 50% split of his dis­pos­able mil­i­tary retired pay because we did not spec­ify the SBP for this. How­ever, what will hap­pen to my other ben­e­fits — Com­mis­sary and Health­care that I have received all these years. Will those ben­e­fits stop, too when he does. Oh, by the way, I NEVER DID REMARRY and do not intend to. I am good friends with my for­mer spouse by the way.
    Thanks. Cara in Minnesota

    1. I to am a for­mer with 20/20/20 ben­e­fits. Yes you will lose your retire­ment pay but you will not lose all of the other benefits.

    2. As long as you meet the 20/20/20/ Rule, if he die before you and you don’t remarry you keep all your benefits

    3. I met the 20/20/20 year rule and I fought the SBP and I got it. As far as I know, once the ex spouse dies, the retire­ment pay will go way and if you have the SBP, the SBP ben­e­fits will take over. So, since you dont have the SBP, you will lose the retire­ment pay. As far as your other ben­e­fits, I think you can keep it.

  2. Over­lapped .…. to be eli­gi­ble, does the mil­i­tary mem­ber “have” to be in “active duty” sta­tus at the time of divorce, or can the mem­ber be in “retired” status?

    Com­ing up on a divorce; how­ever, mil­i­tary mem­ber will be in retired sta­tus when we hit (what would have been) our 20 year mark.

    Thanks for your time -

    1. To get all ben­e­fits the ser­vice mem­ber and spouse must be mar­ried 20 years while serv­ing on active duty for 20 years. If the retire­ment and divorce hap­pen one day after you both do 20 years togeather on active duty, the spouse keep all benefits.

  3. I was awarded 23% of my ex’s retire­ment pay. we were mar­ried for 9yrs all of which he was active duty. He has an allot­ment set up but the allot­ment isn’t under the “For­mer Spouse Pro­tec­tion Act” on his retire­ment state­ment. He choses when to pay me. Enough said. Can I receive pay­ments that he can inter­rupt? Also, am I allowed to be mar­ried and col­lect my share of the retirement?

    1. I do not like that your ex can chose when to pay you. The 23% should have been deducted straight from his retire­ment check and deposited to your account. There is a form to fill out, go o
      nline under mil­i­tary forms.

    2. Since the court ordered him to pay you and you are not pro­tected by fed­eral law. He can inter­rupt the pay­ments. You can not have it deducted straight from his retire­ment with­out his per­mis­sion. Also check your divorce decree for a remar­riage clause. Most mil­i­tary divorces will include one.

  4. I am cur­rently going through a divorce. My hus­band is retired AF and did SBP for me upon his retire­ment. How is this to be worded in the divorce papers, that I will be able to keep the coverage

    1. Get your own insur­ance. Do some­thing for your­self. He shouldn’t con­tinue to have to pay for you when he’s dead.

      1. Insur­ance is expen­sive, and ben­e­fits are earned, the deceased per­son is just that, deceased. He/she is no longer pay­ing for anything.

  5. Any wound have any idea on how the per­cent­age of retire­ment pay to the spouse is cal­cu­lated? Mar­ried for 25 years, been in the mil­i­tary and mar­ried 19 of those years. How much can he get. He moved out at the 18.5 mark

  6. If you were mar­ried to a mil­i­tary per­son for 33years and were in the mil­i­tary over 19 years on active duty, but short by a few months of 20 can you appeal to receive med­ical ben­e­fits after a divorce?

    1. Was your spouse/ex spouse served the mil­i­tary as reserved? That should carry over as cred­itable ser­vice, call the mil­i­tary retire­ment ser­vice­sor DEERS and get this infor­ma­tion, you may qual­ify the 20/20/20 year rule.

  7. Lau­rie — I have my doubts, but your best course of action is to con­tact DEERS (depen­dant eli­gi­bil­ity enroll­ment report­ing sys­tem) directly at 1–800-538‑9552. Even if they say “yes” the ser­vice branch could audit your case and end your coverage.

  8. Am I to under­stand that after being mar­ried to my ex retiree for 30 years, 18.5 of which he was in the sevice, I can not qual­ify for TRICARE but his new spouse can? Even though she was not mar­ried to him dur­ing his mil­i­tary career?

  9. I am a curent (not for­mer) spouse of a retiree.He retired in 1974 after 23 years active duty. His for­mer wife is deceased. We mar­ried in 1984 (27 years now). I want to know if the 20–20-20 rule applies in my circumstance.

    He had 20+ yrs cred­itable ser­vice, we have been mar­ried 20+ years but I don’t know about this over­lap rule since he was already retired when we mar­ried. I am most inter­ested in con­tin­u­ing to fly Space A as a sur­vivor, if that sit­u­a­tion occurs. I met a widow who flies Space A but she and her retiree hus­band were mar­ried 24 years with no divorce when he passed away.

    1. You are inti­tled to all of the rights that a widow has if he passes away and you are on his SBP. If you divorce him at this point you get absolutely noth­ing. Except for Social Secu­rity Benifits when he passes.

  10. I would like to know where are the response from the ques­tion above…

  11. I was mar­ried to my for­mer spouse for 20 years dur­ing which time he served in the mil­i­tary (20 years). My under­stand­ing is that I am eli­gi­ble for con­tin­ued med­ical ben­e­fits under Tri­Care, but know one can tell me how I go about re-instating my med­ical cov­er­age. Can you please define what my next steps should be?

    1. I am a 20/20/20 wife and I went on base and got my mil­i­tary id, and then went to the hos­pi­tal on base and went to tri­care and signed up, I was told i could also get den­tal if i wanted it.

  12. If there was a period of Legal Sep­a­ra­tion of over a year, will the spouse still be eli­gi­ble for the 20/20/20?

  13. My hus­band served 20 years and retired. We have been mar­ried 24 years. 17 of those he was in the mil­i­tary. What am I eli­gi­ble as far as health care.

    1. You can pay for Tri­care out of pocket for one year. After that you are on your own. To have life­time cov­er­age you would have had to have been mar­ried 20 years with ALL 20 years over­lap­ping mil­i­tary service.

  14. I am approach­ing divorce from my mil­i­tary spouse of 22 years. He is still active and has served 26 years. Am I eli­gi­ble for the 20/20/20 rule and how much retire­ment would I be enti­tled to. Also are you able to receive alimony and half of retire­ment pay? Th

  15. I was divorced from a mil­i­tary mem­ber and fall into the 20/20/20 cat­e­gory. I know I can receive med­ical ben­e­fits, but is den­tal care part of it too? If so, how do I go about get­ting my ben­e­fits? If the mil­i­tary mem­ber refuses to put me on his medical/dental plan, what can I do about it?

    1. Delta Den­tal is not cov­ered under the 20/20/20 or 20/20/15 pro­vi­sions. If you didn’t have den­tal cov­ered in your orig­nal divorce decree… you have, IMHO, two options.…
      1. Hire another lawyer… pay some big bucks to have a 50/50 chance of your ex cough­ing up a den­tal plan for you.…
      2. Sue your orig­i­nal lawyer for com­pe­ten­cies / mal­prac­tice… and use the awarded funds to get your­self a den­tal plan through your cur­rent employer.

  16. You may not or will not get ben­e­fits from the 20/20/20 rule if the 20 years of mar­riage is after the retire­ment? My hus­band retired when we were mar­ried 14 years if I stay mar­ried 6 more years can I fall under 20/20/20 rule?

  17. I have been mar­ried 16 years and my spouse has been in the Army for 24 years.(mixed active duty & reserve duty). I am con­sid­er­ing divorce (I just found out my spouse was hav­ing an affair) but I am will­ing to stay mar­ried for 4 more years to keep my health insur­ance since I am self employed. I under­stand the 20/20/20 rule except for the last “that the period of the mar­riage over­lapped the period of ser­vice by at least 20 years.” Can any­one please clar­ify this & let me know if I stay mar­ried for 4 years do I qual­ify for the 20/20/20 rule? Thank you in advance.

    1. I don’t know

  18. I am a for­mer spouse of a mil­i­tary mem­ber and meet the 20/20/20 rule. My for­mer spouse is still in the reserves. Do I qual­ify to receive med­ical ben­e­fits (Tri­care) or do I have to wait until he starts draw­ing in his retire­ment to receive med­ical benefits?

  19. I’m so con­fused!! Do I qual­ify for the 20/20/20 or the 20/15/20 rule? My hus­band (soon to be ex) joined the Navy in 1984 and retired in 2005. He served a lit­tle over 21 years. We were mar­ried in Decem­ber 1989 and will just be shy of 23 years. The whole “over­lapped” word is con­fus­ing!! Any help would be appreciated.

    1. you won’t qual­ify for 20/20/20 since you were only mar­ried 15 years while he was active duty. As such you will loose health ben­e­fits upon divorce. Since you were mar­ried 15 years of active ser­vice you will have the abil­ity to buy Tri­care for one year post divorce, this will be expen­sive though.

  20. I am a for­mer spouse of a mil­i­tary mem­ber. We were mar­ried 25 years, with 97% of that time being in the mil­i­tary. JAG stated I am cov­ered under the 20/20/20, but my ex-husband will not release his DD214 for me to renew my Mil­i­tary Id or talk to MilPo. JAG said their hands are tied, because my for­mer spouse is now retired. Can you point me in a direc­tion where I can get help? Thank you!

    1. You can request a copy of his DD214 through the Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act. It will have his dates of ser­vice on it.

  21. i was mar­ried for 20 years 6 months 3 days and how do i go by appling for the help of reciev­ing these ben­e­fits can any­one help me on that he remar­ried bit i am not

  22. I am mar­ried and headed for divorce. I have been mar­ried for 16yrs and have 28yrs of mil­i­tary ser­vice out of the reserve side. How does this fig­ure for spousal payment?

  23. Who, exactly, do I con­tact to deter­mine if I offi­cially qual­ify for 20/20/20? I may only be a few DAYS short of the 20 year over­lap so it’s cru­cial to know exactly. Thanks.

  24. I would visit a DEERS (local ID card office) site. Bring your paper­work (mar­riage cer­tifi­cate, divorce decree, etc.) and they should be able to assist.

    1. Thank you, I will try that!

  25. I am a Divorced Spouse with 20 20 20 > I was mar­ried over 30 years when we divorced. I have been hav­ing a prob­lem for the past18 years try­ing to received my back alimony. I have talked to lawyers they say that they can“t help me because we are in dif­fer­ent states and it would cost to much. I am in Mis­souri I have been here for the past two years due to ill­ness with my daugh­ter and fam­ily. I was awareded back alimony in Sep­tem­ber 1994. whenm the divorced was finalaized by the Judge in Lake City,Florida. I wrote to the court and the judge who took over case requested a Medi­a­tion hear­ing for the alimony owed he aslo sent paper work say­ing I had requested to receive alimony owed. I was also given pera­ment alimony I went to the Judge Adovate three times to have my tem­po­rary owed to me from the haer­ing before we were divorced.The judge adovate had my tem­po­rary three times. It ios as if the judge is help­ing him, not to give me alimony. The Depart­ment of Defense have a copy of my divorce. How can I get help with the money he owes me.

  26. I got mar­ried july 8th 1989. My hus­band retired after 22 years of ser­vice. He retired jan 2008. We divorced may 2013. Do I qual­ify for 20–20-20. Terssa

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