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How can former military spouses apply for benefits under USFSPA?

There is a fairly large community of military service members and their families residing in and around Clarksville, Tennessee. Those people understand that life in the military is quite different from civilian life for the service members, their spouses and their children. Considering those differences, there are special federal and state legislation in effect for dealing with military family law matters.

One such act, the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, ensures that former spouses of military members are protected by means of certain rights and benefits in the event of a military divorce. Under this act, former spouses of service members are entitled to up to half of a military member's disposable retirement pay in the event of a divorce. However, the power to divide the property belongs to the state courts. Benefits can also include medical coverage and admittance to commissaries and exchanges.

To apply for benefits under the USFSPA, a military member's former spouse must submit a completed DD Form 2293 to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service along with a copy of a court order certified by the court clerk. The application can be submitted either by mail or by fax. If applying via fax, the former spouse must ensure that the application includes the service member's Social Security number, a return phone number and a return fax number. This is important because irregularities in the form can lead to unnecessary delays in processing the claim.

It is also important that the application clearly states which benefits a former spouse is seeking and that person's order of priority. In the absence of this information, the DFAS will only award a portion of the retirement pay, according to the USFSPA. Once all of the requirements have been fulfilled, the payments will start to be issued from the DFAS.

In order to understand the entire process in greater detail as well as other available benefits, former military spouses may wish to speak with an experienced military divorce attorney. The information may be very valuable.

Source: Defense Finance and Accounting Service, "How to Apply," Accessed on Jan. 30, 2015

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