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Why the New Supreme Court Decision has Serious Implications for Former Military Spouses

Submitted by Meditec on Fri, 03/09/2018 - 15:30
Why the New Supreme Court Decision has Serious Implications for Former Military Spouses

According to a recent Supreme Court ruling, veterans do not have to pay an ex-spouse a cut from their retirement benefits anymore. These benefits are waivered in favor of a pension they receive for service-related disabilities. The landmark ruling was based on Howell v. Howell, a military couple who got divorced back in 1991. In a typical divorce, the veterans have to divide their retirement pay with their ex-spouse. Those who qualify sometimes waive this pay in favor of disability pay since it is not considered to be a marital asset. However, some states force veterans to make up the difference with additional payments if they go for this option. MyCAA Programs for Military Spouses In the Howell v. Howell case, the husband’s pension was deemed a marital asset under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act. As such, it was split with his ex-wife. However, when he received disability pay from the Department of Veteran Affairs, he waived $250 of that pay under offset rules and received the full VA award that gave him the full amount. However, since he was allowed to do this by the Supreme Court, his ex-wife ended up with a smaller portion of that pension. Her amount went down to about $125/month while he received the full amount. The decision was unanimous, and has had a serious impact on divorce settlements between military spouses across the nation going forward. While courts might not allow settled divorce agreements to be reopened under the new law, future military divorce proceedings will be affected by the decision. There is also going to be a major change in the paperwork involved and practices have to be introduced to reduce the impact of reduced financial aid for divorced military spouses. Spouses who are impacted by the ruling will have to support themselves with additional means of income, especially if they have children to support. Since the decision has been made under federal law, the ruling is applicable across the nation which will have a significant impact on future military divorce proceedings. If the disability issue arises after a divorce, and the military retirement pension is reduced as a result, the veteran will keep the disability pay in its entirety. According to the Supreme Court, the military spouse may choose to recalculate spousal support according to future needs and changing circumstance. However, rather than give them the independence they need to live their own life free of marital strain, this still makes ex-spouses dependent on their estranged partner, albeit for reduced benefits.

What is Meditec’s MyCAA Program

While military spouses with a strained relationship can make their marriage work, it is always better to be safe than sorry. The best thing to do under these circumstances is to acquire an education or skills that can help you support yourself in case the ruling is against you. This is where the MyCAA program comes into the picture. MyCAA or Military Spouse Career Advancement Account program is a scholarship based training program for military spouses. The main aim of this training is to give them access to education and employment opportunities in high-growth careers. The skills they learn can be used to maintain a comfortable quality of life irrespective of their location. Spouses who are currently on active duty are eligible for this program, and this also includes those who are members of the National Guard and Reserve. Spouses whose partner is on Title 10 orders can get a scholarship if they can complete the program on time. The program for these can span 6 to 9 months in a classroom setting. However, you can finish faster if you opt for an online program which you can attend according to your own schedule. The faster you graduate, the faster you can get a job that can pay well. Whether military spouses want to change their careers, start a new one or just need to accumulate vocational skills, they should apply for MyCAA immediately. By clearing the program, they can make more money to support their spouse and children, gain invaluable workplace experiences, and save up for retirement in case they find themselves alone in the future.