Supreme Court rules in veteran's favor in closely watched divorce settlement case

By: Shawn Snow, May 17, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday, in the case of Howell v. Howell, that a state court cannot offset the loss of a divorced spouse’s portion of a veteran's retirement benefits when that veteran waives retirement pay in favor of disability pay. The issue has been hotly debated for years. 

In 1991, a court awarded Sandra Howell half of Air Force veteran John Howell’s retirement pay when the couple was divorced. However, after becoming aware in 2005 that he was eligible for disability benefits, John, who had received a 20 percent disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs, elected to waive $250 of his $1,500 a month in retirement pay, which is taxable, in favor of $250 monthly disability pay from the VA, which is not taxable. That reduced Sandra's monthly divorce settlement by $125, so she went back to court, arguing that she should get half of what his retirement pay would have been if he had not opted for disability pay. 

The Arizona Supreme Court upheld her claim in its interpretation of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, a law that regulates how military retirement pay may be divided up after a divorce.  

The Supreme Court's ruling Monday overturned the Arizona court's decision. 

Until 2003, disabled veterans had to select either their full retirement compensation from the Department of Defense or their VA disability benefit with a reduced retirement annuity. This penalty became known as the "VA offset." Many veterans choose the offset, however, because disability payments are tax free. In the 2003 and 2004 defense authorization bills, Congress waived this offset in certain cases, and veterans with career-ending combat injuries or a disability rating of 50 percent or higher were allowed to concurrently receive both types of payments. 

Full Reference here

Supreme Court Decision

 

 

The Washington Ramble

ARA Quarterly Newsletter - April 2017, ARA Vol 34 Issue 2 - Get it here in PDF

Your voice on Capitol Hill,
Michael P. Smith,
Executive Director

New leadership makes a difference. Have you noticed any changes given
our new administration! Being in Washington...I can tell you the
changes are immense. Since President Trump's inauguration it is
amazing how many positive changes have taken place for our military.
This subject was discussed during my last testimony to both the House
of Representatives and the Senate. It is a new conservative environment.
The biggest change is "leadership" at all levels. Very evident in the operation of the Pentagon. Secretary of Defense Mattis is cleaning house.

I anticipate our National Security has improved along with action on our
long fight to repeal USFPS. We also need to stand firm on Syria and rid
that country of Bassir Assad. Support President Trump with the recent
bombing of Syria after the poisoning of the Syrian people. We were successful in confirming Supreme Court Judge Neil Gorsuch.

Continue to Read more


 

Hot off the Presses

THE SOLBERG REPORT

Thanks to DFAS and the Freedom of Information Act, we are able to share the current toll USFSPA provisions are taking on uniformed services personnel, and by extension, the very national security that protects us from our foreign and domestic enemies.

The 97th Congress passed USFSPA provisions to President Reagan and he signed it into law. Iowa Senator Harold Jepson apologized to me, in a Memo, for the harm his legislation (it was his version of the Bill that cleared the joint conference) has done to career uniformed services personnel and by extension to the national defense team we all rely on to protect us from our foreign and domestic enemies.

State legislators dodge the USFSPA reform issue, by falsely claiming it is a Congressional mandate. Interestingly, six of our great States protect their government employee pensioners from the harm USFSPA provisions lay on our Federal Uniformed Service pesonnel. Ironically, other states want us to believe they too cannot similarly protect those who make their every existence possible.......Learn More->


 

Divorce and the Military II

**YOU MUST READ THIS TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES BOOK**

Discover how unpublicized Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act provisions target career Military, PHS and NOAA personnel! .......................ORDER THE BOOK..............................

Divorce in the military(1) What You Don't Know CanHurt You
(2) What USFSPA Is and What It Is Not
(3) Where Were You in '82? (Things the Recruiter Didn't Tell You)
(4) Controversy Aplenty
(5) Is it lncome or ls it Property?
(6) Women in Uniform
(7) The Reserves and the Guard
(8) All Divorces Are Not Alike: What you need to consider
(9) Federal Benefits: Here Today and May be Gone Tomorrow
(10) Financial Management Before and After Your Divorce
(11) Survivor Benefit Plan
(12) 51 Flavors and Counting
(13) The Divorce Process
(14) Selecting an Attorney
(15) Strategies
(16) Legislative Environment:
(17) About the ARA
(18) Restoring Fairness and Equality

View the Complete Table of Contents of Divorce in the Miliary

 

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA)

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) was implemented ostensibly to protect deserving uniformed service member former spouses. Ironically, it created a class of service member casualties, larger than those it was designed to protect.

The American Retirees Association (ARA) was founded in 1984 specifically to address the numerous inequities found in Title 10 USC 1408 et seq (USFSPA). ARA is a 501(c)(19) Veterans Support Organization (VSO), chartered in California, as Tax Exempt Corporation 1551226, with Federal Tax Exemption ID  33-0246743. Our field membership is comprised of all male and female members of the Uniformed Services, residing across the United States and around the world.


USFSPA 1099-R Fraud Alert

There is no easy method for a concerned State Department of Revenue to determine which Form 1099-R is from a military retiree or a former dependent military spouse. In addition, there is no easy way to determine whether a Form 1099-R is reporting tax exempt military retired pay or non-exempt payments, pursuant to a divorce decree, for which Title 10 of the United States Code,

Section §1408(c)(2), applies. If you can identify a resident you believe has committed or is committing this USFSPA related fraud, consider reporting their contact information to their Department of Revenue, Audit Bureau, (anonymously, if you prefer). We are confidant their case-by-case basis investigation results are confidential.

DISCLAIMER: The American Retirees Association provides general information on the issue of non-disability military retirement benefits as a divisible marital asset. It is with the understanding that this Web Site is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. State laws relative to domestic relations vary and change frequently. If legal or other expert assistance is required, please consult with competent professionals.