The United States military provides pensions to retirees and certain disabled military personnel in recognition of the fact that their service and personal financial sacrifices required giving up similar benefits in the private sector. Military spouses, who are recognized as having made similar financial and professional sacrifices, are entitled to a portion of that pension even if widowed or divorced. However, under certain conditions, remarriage can nullify a spouse's claim to this benefit.
Death and Remarriage
When a retired military member dies, his pension payments also cease. However, if he opted in to the Survivor Benefit Plan, this insurance program continues paying 55 percent of that pension to his widow until her death. Retirees are automatically enrolled in this plan, and may not opt out or reduce coverage unless a spouse consents in writing. A widowed spouse who remarries prior to the age of 55 loses this benefit; however, it will automatically be passed to surviving children until they are age 18, or 22 if enrolled full time in college.
Divorce and Remarriage
Under the Uniform Services Former Spouse’s Protection Act of 1983, a divorced spouse who was married to a military member for at least 10 years during which that member was on active duty is entitled to up to 50 percent of his military pension as part of property division. A divorced spouse receiving a portion of a military pension will lose all rights to that pension if she remarries prior to the age of 55.
The 10-Year Rule and Divorce Settlements
Divorced spouses who were not married for 10 years that overlapped with military service may still receive a portion of a military member's pension if it is specified in a divorce settlement. In addition, if your divorce settlement stated specifically that you would be entitled to a portion of the military pension even if you remarried, then you will retain that entitlement. However, the military will not enforce this decree by sending you a portion of the pension every month, as it is required to do under the Uniform Services Former Spouse's Protection Act. Instead, the divorced spouse must collect that portion of the pension through private means.
While it looks and feels the same to the recipient, a VA pension has very different rules. A spouse receiving a VA survivor's pension, referred to officially as Dependency and Indemnity Compensation or DIC, will lose that pension if he remarries before the age of 57. If the second marriage ends, DIC benefits can be reinstated if the spouse applies again. However, any DIC paid to the children of the deceased veteran in care of the remarried spouse will not be lost.