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Congratulations! You’re getting married, and you’re about to initiate your significant other into military life.
To make sure your new spouse can take advantage of all the benefits available to them, make sure you go through each item on this handy checklist.
- Get A Prenuptial Agreement: Many people benefit from signing a prenuptial agreement before they get married, not just service members. However, your military pension and benefits make a prenup even more important to consider.
- Get A Military ID: Your spouse will need their own Military ID card to receive benefits and be granted admission to installations, exchanges, and commissaries. You’ll need to sponsor your spouse and obtain and sign the forms in person at your installation’s ID office.
- Update DEERS: The Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) is a computerized database that contains records of service members and their families and anyone eligible for military benefits. When you get married, you will need to add your new spouse before they can register for health and dental benefits with TRICARE. Go to your nearest ID office to register your spouse in DEERS. Your spouse can register in DEERS and obtain their ID card there on the same day. Be sure to bring your spouse’s birth certificate, Social Security Card, and photo ID and, of course, your new marriage certificate.
- Enroll for TRICARE: After you’ve registered your spouse with DEERS, you can compare health plans and benefits available with TRICARE
- Get Dental Coverage: Active duty service members are already covered, and military spouses can purchase a discounted dental plan with TRICARE.
- Memorize one another’s Social Security Number: Knowing your new spouse’s Social Security Number will come in handy when you’re signing forms. Exchange your digits and commit them to memory.
- Create a Power of Attorney: A power of attorney is a legal document that will allow your spouse to act on your behalf when you’re deployed. Your spouse can use a POA to take out a loan, manage your finances, and pay and file your taxes.
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- Get To Know Your Military Family Support Programs: The military offers various programs for your family, such as events, courses, childcare, recreation centers, and more through its Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) centers. Each branch of the military has its own MWR branch – The Army’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Program, The Marine Corps Community Services, The Navy MWR, Air Force Services Activity and Coast Guard MWR. You’ll also want to check out Military Family Support Centers, Inc. (MFSC) – a private not-for-profit organization that supports military families through morale, support, and information programs. Family Support Centers offer employment programs and preparation classes that may be a huge help when you get married. They also have New Spouse Orientation courses to help those who are new to military life learn about their benefits and meet their new support network.
- Go Over Online New Spouse Resources: If your spouse cannot attend an in-person New Spouse Orientation (NSO) program, or just wants to learn more about spousal military benefits, there are a few resources available that anyone can access online. The Navy’s online NSO course is self-paced, but it does not take more than a few hours to complete. It’s easy to navigate, and presents all of the information you need to know about military spousal benefits, military culture, and resources with diagrams and images and a clear, helpful voiceover. Army spouses can go through Welcome to the Army Family, a quick PDF from the Army MWR. All services can utilize militaryonesource.com, which focuses on government-funded programs and resources that all branches of service can take advantage of, and of course, MilSpouseFest.com has plenty of resources listed that families can review. Your MWR branch may be able to alert you of other online resources that will be of use to you and your new spouse.
- Add Your Spouse To Your “Page 2”: When you get married, you’ll need to add your spouse to your “Page 2.” Page 2 of your service record lists dependents and people to notify in case of emergency.
- Get Life Insurance Coverage: Service members are automatically enrolled in Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and do not need to enroll. Once you get married, you will need to help your spouse enroll in the Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance program. You’ll need a pay a premium to add your spouse, but other dependents will be covered free of charge.
- Register your spouse’s car on base: Most military bases will require your spouse to register their car at the base pass office. This registration is separate from state vehicle registration, which varies from state to state. Bring your military ID and proof of insurance, current safety inspection, and state vehicle registration.
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Information contained in this blog is general. Please consult an attorney or other appropriate professional if you need advice.