"Anyone in a free society where the laws are unjust has an obligation to break the law."
- Henry David Thoreau
The legislative route is a JOKE. I strongly encourage you to join the USFSPA Lawsuit and contribute what you can to this cause. As you will read below, not ONE of the THREE bills introduced ever made it to the floor.
Face it, Congress is in the game for theirselves. Go ahead, write your rep and I'll wager you'll receive a typical "Generic" reply that tells you what the USFSPA is (Like you don't know already). And that's all you'll get. Hence, the USFSPA Lawsuit, because VSO's placed priorities on other issues and most of the Congressional Reps lack a spinal column to do what's right. Pathetic isn't it? So do the RIGHT thing and support the Lawsuit.
Dealing with a Congress where a majority has NEVER served in the military (See the Fleet Reserve Association's Site for a Listing) ain't very fun. Sooooo, if you think that there's plenty of "OTHER" folks and Veterans Organizations out there who are gonna do all the foot work so you can feel warm and fuzzy inside.....THINK AGAIN!! So how 'bout it? Wanna be a TEAM-PLAYER and make a difference? Bottom line is "GIVE A DAMN" and "GET INVOLVED". It can be catchy.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE USFSPA
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (the Act) was created in 1982 as part of the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1983. Initially offered as an amendment to proposed legislation, the Act became law (Public Law 97-252) on September 8, 1982. The law was made retroactive to June 21, 1981.
What does the Act call for?
The Act allows a divorce court to award a divorced spouse a portion of a serviceman’s retirement pension, up to 50% (In some cases, even more has been awarded). It provides that a member of the service may sign over his annuity to a former spouse and provides medical care for up to 180 days for a former spouse, with the possibility of renewal.
Former spouses who were married 20 years or more during the member’s service are entitled to CHAMPUS/Tricare as well as commissary and post exchange privileges on the same basis as surviving spouses of retired members.
Note: This portion DOES NOT APPLY to spouses of Service members who retired under TERA (less than 20 years), the rest does.
Proposed Legislation would have made key changes to the Act (If our Congress Critters had the balls to bring it to the floor)
There are two main points of contention with the Act as it exists today. First, a former spouse continues to receive payment regardless of whether or not they remarry. Second, the monetary amount awarded is based on the rank/grade at the time of retirement, not the time of the divorce.
Representative Cass Ballenger had proposed House Resolution 1983, which called for several changes to the Act. These changes included the termination of payments upon remarriage of the former spouse and the award of retired pay to be based on retiree’s length of service and pay grade at the time of the divorce. Further, it calls for a limitation on the time for seeking a division of retired pay and a limitation on the apportionment of disability pay when retired pay has been waived. The bill never made it to the floor.
AN OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESS
As a responsible legislator, would you vote favorably for a proposal that...
•was not subject to a House hearing;
•had no markup and was hurriedly introduced as a surprise amendment;
•was reintroduced in late evening when most House members were off the Floor;
•was adopted by the House the next day as an amendment to the original amendment; or
•was not debated on the floor of the Senate and revised in conference so the final version altered much of the language adopted earlier by the House?
I believe this is the wrong way to legislate laws affecting citizens of these United States. I further believe you wouldn't approve of such action if it was perpetrated by a minority of Congressional Representatives determined to railroad the House into accepting a flawed proposal. For these reasons I am requesting your assistance in having a bad law revisited. Currently, the offending statute is not equitable to all it serves and is discriminating for many. As one of your former colleagues announced on the House floor:
"I cannot be silent when the House might produce what I regard as defective legislation…Both (the) amendments create more loopholes than they seek to cure."
(Rep. Richard White, TX; CongRec, July 28, 1982, p H 4724.)
In 1982, Congress hurriedly - within days and with minimum debate (none on the Senate floor) - passed the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) (10 USC § 1408) as part of the FY 1983 National Defense Authorization Act (PL 97-252). Although an amendment to the original amendment introducing the proposal in the House was agreed to, the final version of the conference report nearly obliterated the changes originally adopted by the House to the introductory amendment. (See Congressional Record, July 27, 1982, pp H 4682 - H 4703; July 28, 1982, pp H 4717 - H 4737.)
Although the House and Senate Armed Services Committees failed to consider all but one of the few appropriate and equitable changes offered by The Fleet Reserve Association, et al, they have without benefit of open hearings or debate adopted nearly a score of additional changes - all favoring former spouses. Regardless of your position, the USFSPA sorely needs review. No member of Congress should allow this discriminate law to remain as it now reads.
HR-72,HR-1983 and HR 1111 ARE HISTORY. None of the bills ever made it to the floor. No new Bills have been introduced to date.
FACT SHEET - Uniformed Services Former Spouse EQUITY Act -1999 - HR -72
The following is a synopsis of the EQUITY bill that was introduced in the 106th Congress by Representative Stump and Representative Norwood.(HR 1983 was essentially the same and HR 1111 was a cop-out)
Amplified remarks are annotated by quotation marks. The full bill can be found at the Thomas.loc.gov web site and searching for HR 72,HR 1983 or HR 1111.
The bills seeked to change four items of the original Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act. As you can tell, the original USFSPA provides more rights to a former spouse to obtain retirement benefits
than the service member who earned it. On May 24, 2001, Rep. Ballenger introduced HR-1983 that addressed the following issues:
1. TERMINATION OF PAYMENTS UPON REMARRIAGE OF FORMER SPOUSE. (This was NOT include in HR 1111)
"This section is included to prevent former spouses from making a marriage industry of consecutively marrying one military retiree after another and collecting divisions of retainer pay from each marriage. It does NOT stop the payment of the division of retainer pay to those former spouses that have not remarried. However, a service member is
obligated to serve a minimum of 20 years to earn the right to be in retired reserve status to get retainer pay. A former spouse can collect up to 50% of that retainer regardless of the number of years they were
married according to the USFSPA. The 10-year rule, which is often misconstrued, only means that the Defense Financial Accounting Service is only obligated to deduct from the retirees account when they have
been married for 10 years concurrent with active military service.
State courts order the payment to come from the retiree if the marriage was less than 10 years concurrent with military service." In other words
You only have to be married 1 (one) day and your Ex-Spouse can go for your retainer according to some judges.
2. AWARD OF RETIRED PAY TO BE BASED ON RETIREE'S LENGTH OF SERVICE AND PAY GRADE AT TIME OF DIVORCE.
"This section acknowledges that some divorces occur prior to the retirement of the service member. Currently, the actual date of the division of retainer pay is at the time of retirement and not the time
of the divorce. This causes the former spouse to achieve a windfall of COLA'S, longevity increases and advancements awarded the service member after the divorce has been finalized."
3. LIMITATION ON TIME FOR SEEKING DIVISION OF RETIRED PAY.
"This section could very well be for the prevention of what happened to Col. Bob Strim. See http://www.americanretirees.com/horrors.htm for
several horror stories of what this law has done. Regardless, it prevents the former spouse from having a blank check to the division of retired pay long after the divorce of the service member and after the
service member has started a new life and family.
4. LIMITATION ON APPORTIONMENT OF DISABILITY PAY WHEN RETIRED PAY HAS BEEN WAIVED.
"This section deals with the division of disability pay as community property. Although federal law states that disability pay cannot be divided, state courts are circumventing this ruling by awarding division of disability pay to former spouses. Under normal circumstances, a divorce prior to retirement means that the disability compensation is not awarded until after the service member retires and after the
division of retainer pay occurs."