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Are you eligible for survivor benefits after a divorce?

As the spouse of a member of the military in Richmond, you no doubt are asked to make many personal sacrifices in order to accommodate your spouse's service. One of those may be establishing yourself professionally due to the constant relocations that military service often requires. As a result, you remain dependent on your spouse's military income. That dependence continues if you choose to divorce, and perhaps even after your ex-spouse retires. Yet what happens if the die before you? Typically, the families of members of the military who pass away are entitled to survivor benefits. Yet would you retain that eligibility after your marriage has ended? 

You can provided that your ex-spouse agrees to keep you listed as a beneficiary of their survivor benefits (often, that agreement is mandated as part of a divorce settlement). However, according to Title 10 Section 1447 of the U.S Armed Forces Code, you must be eligible for this benefit. To be eligible, you must have either been married to the servicemember at the time they become eligible for military retirement or have a child together. 

In the event of your ex-spouse's death, survivor benefit plan coverage would entitle you to 55 percent of their base retirement pay. That amount cannot be less than $300 per month. To remain eligible, the election must be stated in your divorce decree. 

While at first glance it might appear that you would of course want to retain your survivor benefit eligibility, keep in mind that only one beneficiary can be designated. If that is you, it would preclude any children you and your ex-spouse had together from coverage. That is a point you certainly would want to contemplate before pushing for a decision. 

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