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MILITARY: Retired pay is not a property right

Letter by Lewis E. Pugh Jr., Puyallup on Oct. 3, 2011 at 2:09 pm with 11 Comments »
October 3, 2011 2:09 pm

The Department of Military Finance Center (DFAS) has reported that more than $82 million of military retired/retainer pay is now being forwarded as a marital property asset to former spouses of career military personal each month. More than $3 million is from Washington state.

In 1981, the U.S . Supreme Court ruled that military retired pay was not a community property asset (McCarty vs. McCarty). In 1982, Rep. Patricia Schroeder was able to attach the Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) to the Department of Defense Authorization legislation. The USFSPA legislation was even backdated so as to remove the decision that had been made by the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is now estimated that more than 200,000 career military personnel who became divorced, and who have retired, have been placed in a state of involuntary servitude to a former (0ften) remarried spouse for life. Career military personnel often referred to as the retiree remain subject to federal laws and military regulations which control the daily earning of military retired/retainer pay – one of which is being subject to recall to active duty.

It’s time the USFSPA law be repealed. Please sign the White House petition.


Leave a comment Comments → 11
  1. If communal assets and social security of deceased of ex spouses is good enough in the real world, then it is good enough for the military.

  2. So if you treat your wife badly and she divorces you you want to keep it all? Sorry that is not involuntary servitude.

  3. dfelten says:

    Frida, although I agree with your point, I’ve served over 22 years in the Army. Military service is as “real world” as it gets. :)

  4. itwasntmethistime says:

    It sure is a property right. She earned every penny of her half taking care of you, your children, and your home.

  5. puyallupmutt says:

    Military pensions should not be collected until the retiree becomes 65. Why should a 38 year old or 42 year old get a government pension ?

    By 65, the ex-wife’s status may well have changed and the situation is very different.

    But the military lobby has too much power in DC. When OMB Director David Stockman proposed this 30 years ago, he was drummed out of town. Has barely been seen since. So it must have been a good idea.

  6. commoncents says:

    boy you are picking and choosing… McCarty recognized that there was a conflict and strongly hinted that it needed to be address which is why the USFSPA was enacted to begin with. You have provided no argument as to why USFSPA should be repealed. If said retiree is recalled to active duty and receives an additional retirement amount subsequent to the divorce that doesn’t change the amount required to pay the divorced spouse. You are being treated no different than any other member of society except in one way…when you die then your spouse stops receiving a payment as well. All the USFSPA does is say that income you receive is part of community property…so you have to write the monthly check. Bummer.

  7. slugoxyz says:

    Puyallupmutt? You are forgetting an important fact. The military retiree should receive no less than they were promised. It’s a contract. Lots of people collect retirement after 20 years including cops and firemen. I retired from the military with 70% disability after 22 hard years. My choice but I stayed because of that retirement. I wish the military lobby had more power because I see things that were promised to me stripped away all the time. Here’s another problem, if you don’t make it appealing, who will do it? You? It was appealing and you wouldn’t do it. That is a subtle insult by the way.

  8. BlaineCGarver says:

    It’s BS to take a man’s salary. Nobody pays allimony anymore.

  9. missgrams says:

    Divorce is “No Fault”

    The military is the only group of people in the USA who has their “reduced wages for reduced service” made into property for the ex-spouse. It is current income for the military person (therefore no umemployment) property for the ex-spouse (therefore they can collect unemployment)

    The person who should be screaming the loudest is the military spouse who has stayed in the marriage. They have no right to the retainer pay as property and if the military spouse dies the reatiner pay becomes and annuity that comes with conditions for keeping. The ex-spouse can remarry, collect more than one enrichment, go to jail, whatever. The true to the marriage vow spouse and widow actually got the short end of the stick.

    Oh, and the ex-spouse only had to be married for 1 day to receive this enrichment that is attached to the military persons wages (yes wages) for the rest of “till death does them part” that is whoever dies first.

    No one should have their wages taken.

    Military enlistment is voluntary, marriage is voluntary, your lifestyle is voluntary, divorce is personal and the government has no business making the military person responsible for the lack of marital property when the person staying home usually has control of the money.

  10. harleyrider1 says:

    All retirements and pensions are the same. People share in them as they grow up and live life together.

    No one wins in a divorce whether you want it or not.

    There are thousands that sit behind a desk for their 25-years in the service; same as police, firemen, linemen, many other trades. There is no occupation volunteered for that should have exceptions.

    Getting married is an agreement to take care of each other and while it doesn’t always work out, there needs to be a fair division for everyone.

  11. missgrams says:

    harleyrider- If an ex-spouse cannot collect her share of the retainer pay for 16 years or more, because she was only married for 2-3 years, now has a job with the post office, good benefits, good pay, excellent pension she deserves a portion of the military retainer “wages”.

    In the above case I believe that the military person should have the same right to come back and collect on her pension that she has created for the 16 years that they were not married. After all she will be collecting on wages earned after the marriage.

    The military do not have a pension. That word is used only in case of divorce. The faithful married spouse has fewer rights than an ex-spouse.

    There is absolutely no monetary value in retainer pay. It is voted on every year by Congress in the defense budget.

    All the above people you named have a “pension”. Military do not have a “penison” or anything like it. Go to ULSG.org and get informed, or simply look up USFSPA and military divorce.

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