What impact does getting married have on a servicemember's benefits?
A servicemember's spouse is called a dependent and makes the servicemember eligible to receive an increased basic allowance for housing (BAH), if the servicemember does not already have other dependents (for example, children). The spouse should be eligible to receive military healthcare benefits and access to on-post services such as tax-free shopping, free tax preparation services, veterinary care, and free legal assistance. Additionally, if the servicemember acquires step-children because of the marriage, those step-children may also be eligible to receive military healthcare benefits. If both a husband and wife are in the military, there may actually be a decrease in the combined allowances and benefits.
The Family Separation Allowance is an additional financial benefit to being married as compared to "dating." A family becomes eligible for the allowance if a servicemember is separated because of work from his or her spouse for thirty days or more. Additionally, when a male servicemember's wife has a baby, the male servicemember is allowed to take up to 10 days of paternity leave. This benefit is not available to nonmarried couples who have children.
Being married may also make a servicemember eligible to take advantage of other intangible benefits such as permission to live in on-base housing, emergency leave benefits to care for a sick spouse that may not be available to care for a sick girlfriend or boyfriend, moving expense coverage, and other benefits that may be triggered upon the death of the servicemember.
Being married to a servicemember may also affect the nonservicemember spouse's state income tax residency requirements, and may provide the spouse with certain legal protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
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