4 Things You Need to Know About Same-Sex Spouse Benefits

By Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

On Aug. 29, 2013, NAVADMIN 218/13 was released to provide Navy guidance on the Department of Defense memo dated Aug. 13, 2013 announcing the plan to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of uniformed service members and Department of Defense civilian employees. NAVADMINs 024/13 and 152/13 are cancelled.

What changed for the DOD with the June 26 Supreme Court ruling on Defense of Marriage Act?

The Supreme Court ruling means that the Defense Department will extend benefits, including medical, dental, and with-dependent Basic Allowance for Housing to same-sex spouses of military personnel.

What is the new policy granting administrative absence for service members to get married?

This policy is being revised by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Navy is awaiting promulgation. Upon receipt of this new guidance, MILPERSMAN 1050-440 will outline additional policy details for the administrative absence.

When will same-sex spouses be able to receive benefits? Will they be retroactive to the date of the Supreme Court decision?

The Department will recognize all marriages that are certified with a valid marriage license/certificate. Spousal and family benefits, including ID cards, will be made available to same-sex spouses on Sept. 3, 2013.

Entitlements such as Basic Allowance for Housing, family separation allowance and medical expenses are retroactive to the date of the Supreme Court’s decision, June 26, 2013.  Any claims to entitlements before that date will not be granted.  For those members married after June 26, entitlements begin at the date of marriage.

DEERS/Rapids sites are reprogrammed and ID cards will be available Sept. 3, 2013.  Health care received between June 26, 2013 and Oct. 1, 2013 will be reimbursed using TRICARE Standard/TRICARE for Life benefit since TRICARE does not offer retroactive TRICARE Prime coverage.  Oct. 1, 2013 is the first day of the normal TRICARE Prime enrollment cycle for spouses who receive an ID card on or after Sept. 3, 2013.  Service members should consult with a TRICARE representative regarding benefit implications.

What about overseas tours? Will a same-sex spouse be able to accompany the service member on an overseas tour?

In accordance with DoD policy, all service members will continue to be eligible for world-wide assignment without consideration of sexual orientation. However, host nation law may impact whether a same-sex spouse can accompany the service member. DoD is working with the Department of State to conduct a careful review of command sponsorship for overseas tours, as well as all applicable host nation laws and Status of Forces Agreements.

At this time, because it is unclear whether a same-sex spouse will be recognized by the host nation, the Navy will not authorize an accompanied overseas assignment to a foreign country for a same-sex spouse. Until these issues are resolved, PCS authorization for same-sex spouses who would normally accompany a service member in receipt of OCONUS PCS orders are on hold except for Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, and Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and U.S. territories and possessions (excluding the former Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands). This is to ensure appropriate legal protections are in place for the service members and their spouses.

Until further notice, the commanding officer of the transferring command must make a finding that same sex spouses are unsuitable for overseas accompanied orders under MILPERSMAN 1300-302, Suitability and Selection for Overseas Service. PSD shall not issue an official passport or plane tickets to a same-sex spouse.

As DOD and Navy determine overseas assignment eligibility in different countries for same-sex spouses, updates will be posted on Navy Personnel Command’s website.