Congratulations – you’re getting married! Provided the marriage is a healthy and supportive union, the military benefits system works most efficiently to support you when your marriage takes place before enlistment. If you are joining the military and also planning on getting married, you’ll want to time it just right, to get maximum military financial benefits for your new spouse and dependents.
HOUSING ALLOWANCE FOR MILITARY DEPENDENTS
While performing basic training duties and follow up job training in Technical School, AIT or A-School, married military servicemembers receive basic housing allowance. Even if you live rent-free in government quarters, the housing allowance is issued to support your spouse and dependents.
The housing allowance is effective on the date of marriage, and a copy of the marriage certificate must be presented. Keep in mind that a marriage certificate can take weeks to obtain. To avoid delay, consider certifying the marriage before enlisting.
MOVING MILITARY DEPENDENTS DURING STATION CHANGES
A married military servicemember is entitled to move dependents and personal property to the closest station or job training location at government expense, unless the assigned location is an unaccompanied overseas tour. For military job training less than 20 weeks, a married servicemember can still move your spouse and dependents, at your own expense, and live with them off-base.
Since military travel entitlements end when a servicemember signs in at a new station, travel reimbursement depends on the date of marriage. If a servicemember gets married at the last minute before training or gets married while on leave, processing the paperwork that authorizes moving entitlements could take several weeks. Timing is essential to receive the military travel benefit for your spouse and dependents.
FAMILY SEPARATION ALLOWANCE
Family separation allowance is a tax-free benefit issued to spouses when military servicemembers are separated from their dependents due to military duties. Married couples in basic training and technical school are also eligible for family separation allowance. It the technical school is less than 20 weeks in duration, the military spouse begins to receive family separation pay after 30 days of active duty.
MILITARY MEDICAL ID CARDS
Health care coverage under the Tricare Military Medical System is another huge benefit available to spouses and dependents of active duty servicemembers. Enrollment in the military medical system begins at basic training, where the servicemember enrolls dependents in Defense Eligibility Enrollment System (DEERS). A Military ID card is issued to your military spouse and dependents, after paperwork is filed at any military installation. If medical care is needed before the Military ID card is issued, a military spouse can file for reimbursement of medical bills through the Tricare network.
MILITARY MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS
Additional paperwork and processing time is often required when a military servicemember decides to get married. For example, Air Force requires any servicemember who has ever been married to undergo a credit check. All military servicemembers must meet military requirement to provide for their dependents. A military spouse can report a servicemember if adequate financial support is not being provided.
There is also a specific law applying to military divorce and retirement pay: the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act. This Act, which is recognized in any state court, entitles a military spouse to half of any future retirement pay in the event of divorce.
Your upcoming marriage is not just a change in your lifestyle, but also in your military benefits. If you are just enlisting in the U.S. military, consider tying the knot before enlistment to gain maximum military benefits for yourself, your spouse and your dependents.