Paycheck Chronicles

How To Get 20-20-20 Benefits for Former Spouses


Today's letter shows that it can be confusing to access benefits even if you are eligible for them.  Sometimes navigating the world of the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), identification cards, and Tricare can feel overwhelming.  And sometimes it is hard to get the right answers!

Dear Kate,

I am 66 years old, I have just learned about 20-20-20 and understand I may be eligible for this program.  I was married to a Navy officer from 1972-2006 and have attached his Years of Service document that I think may qualify me for this benefit.  He said he knows nothing about this program.  Could you please tell me if I am possibly eligible and if so, how to be formally recognized?

Thank you,


Now, I am not qualified to tell this reader whether she is or is not eligible for 20-20-20 benefits - that would be the determination of the branch of service.  However, I can tell her where to apply to be reinstated in DEERS and receive a military ID, if she meets the requirements.

Dear SH,

20-20-20 benefits are very valuable and you should definitely check to see if you are eligible.  I recommend you call your nearest ID card office to inquire about their hours, whether you need to make an appointment, and what documents they will require.  They should ask for certified copies of your marriage certificate, your divorce decree, and your former spouse's Statement of Service, Dates of Inclusive Service, or DD 214.

I am told the process is fairly simple if you qualify.

I'm glad you heard about these benefits.

Thanks for writing in,


The complete list of required documentation for enrollment in DEERS is available at the Department of Defense Common Access Card Reference Center online.  The website has a lot of interesting information about unique situations and "what to do" type questions.  I encourage you to look there for all your military ID related questions.

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