Congratulations! You’ve taken the plunge into married life, which, while exciting, can come with more paperwork than your first day at MEPS. To help simplify the process for you I’ve put together four important steps to help square away your new life together.
Enroll your spouse in DEERS
The Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System is an unnecessarily long acronym for a database that essentially allows your spouse to enroll in military-specific benefits, such as healthcare. You can do this at any local RAPIDS ID Card Office (on post if you’re active duty, or search for a location here if you’re a reservist not near a military base), usually by appointment only. You’ll want to do this right away so your spouse can get a dependent ID card and start using Tricare, and you can start collecting additional BAH (goodbye, barracks living!).
Even if your spouse is also in the military, you still need to make sure you’re enrolled together to get benefits such as dual BAH and family separation pay if you deploy or go on extended TDY. If your spouse is bringing children into your marriage, you’ll need to make sure they get enrolled as well.
Bring to your appointment original or certified copies of:
- your marriage certificate
- your spouse’s birth certificate
- your spouse’s Social Security card
- your spouse’s photo ID
These documents may take some time to track down, so start collecting them now so you get a green light the first time at DEERS – you never want to be that guy who gets to the front of the line and doesn’t have the right paperwork. And once you get your documents together, go ahead and throw them in a secure folder, because you’ll need them again.
Change your name
This can be a real doozy if you don’t come prepared. If you or your spouse plan on changing your last name after you’re married you’ll need to be on your game to make sure you’re not that guy once again.
For starters, whoever is changing their name will need everything from step one — your marriage certificate, photo ID, birth certificate, and Social Security card. Once you’ve got your documents head to your local Social Security office to get a new card with your new name on it. After you receive your card the next stop should be the DMV or licensing office to update your driver’s license or state ID. Take your folder of very important documents with you to get your new name on your photo ID.
Here are a few other things to consider changing to reflect your married name:
- passport and other travel documents like TSA PreCheck
- credit cards and bank accounts
- mortgage or rental agreement
- student loans
If you’ve been living in the barracks you’re probably more than ready to upgrade to a house or apartment, far, far away from surprise inspections and buffing hallway floors that refuse to shine. Many military bases have housing options, from single-family homes to apartments. These are great options if you want to stay close, but not too close to work. The downside is you’ll most likely surrender 100% of your BAH to live there.
Renting or buying in the local community might be a better fit for you if you want to have more options to fit your needs. Depending on how you plan, you may even be able to find something below your BAH and pocket the rest of the cash. If you’re looking to buy a home, the VA has zero down payment loans with lower interest rates for service members and veterans.
This is a great option if you’re planning on staying put for a while or want to rent out your home for extra cash flow after you change stations.
Most apartment complexes and property managers have clauses in their leases that allow you to break your lease without penalty if you have military orders for deployment or change of station. Make sure you read your contract carefully before you sign, though, to make sure so you’re not out a chunk of cash if you need to pack up and move before your lease is up.
Get additional life insurance
Even if you’re already covered with Servicemembers Group Life Insurance through the military, you may need more coverage for a variety of reasons – at some point, you plan on leaving the military, you have or plan to have children, or you have a high debt to asset ratio.
One of the smartest things you’ll ever do for yourself is plan for the future. Navy Mutual is a great place to start when it comes to life insurance and preparing for the unknowns. They have a variety of insurance options based on your needs, and unlike many other insurance companies, they cater directly to service members without hidden fees or clauses. This means no war clause – so if you’re going to combat, are in a high-risk career like aviation, or travel a lot for training – your family will be protected if you happen to become a casualty.
Navy Mutual even has a life insurance option that can accumulate cash value over time and protect you if you develop a chronic or terminal illness*.
*Check out Navy Mutual’s website for eligibility information and to compare plans.
This article is sponsored by Navy Mutual.