This topic contains information on the following subjects:
The various branches of the military require their members to provide support for family members. Federal regulations require military personnel to provide:
1. Financial support under the terms of a court order;
2. Financial support as specified in a written support agreement in the absence of a court order; or
3. Financial support through interim support measures until such time that a court order or a written support agreement is established.
Local CSS agencies should always attempt to obtain a voluntary support agreement for the establishment of support. If this attempt is unsuccessful, agencies should request that interim support measures be applied until a legal obligation can be established. When military regulations indicate a specific amount of interim support, that amount is generally less than the amount which the state's child support guidelines would mandate.
In addition to standard voluntary procedures and court procedures, a number of tactics for procuring child support exist that are unique to military personnel:
1. The use of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH);
2. Interim support measures - All branches of the military maintain regulations that require a duty of support by the service members to their family/dependents. Most branches of the military have established support requirements that can be used when a court order or written support agreement has not been effected. When specified, these amounts are generally less than what the state's guidelines for child support would mandate;
3. Voluntary military allotments - A military allotment is the portion of a military member's pay that is allotted directly to another person or to an institution. Voluntary allotments are initiated, amended, and/or terminated at the discretion of the military member.
Military pay consists of basic pay and can also include a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), a Basic Allowance for Subsistence or Separate Rations (BAS or Sep Rats) and/or Special Skills Pay (EX: flight pay, jump pay, etc.) and bonuses (EX: re-enlistment bonuses). To view military pay tables, access this website: "http://www.dfas.mil/militarypay/militarypaytables.html" and click on the current year's "Military Pay Tables" link.
CSS must consider basic pay, all allowances, and Special Skills Pay when setting the support obligation. BAH, BAS/Sep Rats, and Special Skills Pay should be added to the military member/noncustodial parent’s (NCP's) pay when determining the gross pay. These amounts can be obtained from the military NCP's Leave And Earnings Statement (LES).
A complete description of the LES can be found online by accessing this web site: “http://www.dod.mil/dfas/militarypay/newinformation.html". Then click on the appropriate branch of the service.
NOTE: A complete description of the Federal CIVIL Service LES can be found online by accessing this web site: "http://www.dod.mil/dfas/civilianpay/payandentitlements.html".
If the military NCP is not receiving BAH and BAS/Sep Rats, it is likely that the NCP is living on base and not paying for housing or food. In these instances, it is important for CSS caseworkers to include this "in kind" income when determining the NCP's true income.
The purpose of BAH is to provide active duty military personnel with accurate and equitable housing compensation based on housing costs in local civilian housing markets when government housing is not provided. The BAH rates are based on geographic duty location, pay grade, and dependency status.
Military personnel who are living in government quarters and who have no dependents are entitled to "Partial BAH".
Military personnel who are not living in government quarters and who have no dependents are entitled to "BAH" at the "without dependents" rate.
Military personnel who are eligible for BAH and who have dependent family members are entitled to a greater amount of BAH, referred to as "BAH at the 'with dependents' rate". To be eligible for BAH at the "with dependents" rate, military members/noncustodial parents (NCPs) must pay toward the support of his/her dependents an amount that is AT LEAST equal to the difference between BAH at the "with dependents" and "without dependents" rates each month.
If two (2) military parents are supporting the same child, only one of the military parents is entitled to BAH at the "with dependents" rate. Forfeiture of the "with dependents" portion of BAH does not relieve a military member/NCP of his/her obligation to support family members.
To procure BAH, military members/NCPs must go to their local finance officer, establish that they do not live on the military base in assigned family quarters, submit proof that they have legal dependents, and request BAH. If the military member is the father of a child born out of wedlock, paternity must be legally established before BAH can be awarded. A female service member who has a child born out of wedlock is awarded BAH automatically if she is the principal caretaker of the child or if the child has another principal caretaker who is receiving WFFA/TANF.
BAH is a temporary remedy for support. CSS caseworkers should continue to pursue the establishment of an order for support and initiate income withholding.
BAH II is the equivalent to what used to be BAQ (Basic Allowance for Quarters) and does not vary by geographic location. It is the housing allowance, or is used to calculate the housing allowance, for military personnel in particular circumstances, such as reservists on active duty for less than twenty (20) weeks, military personnel in confinement, etc.
BAH-DIFF (Differential) is the housing allowance amount for military personnel who are assigned to single-type quarters and who are authorized to receive BAH solely by reason of their payment of child support. Military personnel are not entitled to BAH-DIFF if the monthly amount of child support that they owe is less than the BAH-DIFF amount.
To access BAH rate listings, visit the following web site: "http://www.dfas.mil/militarypay/militarypaytables.html". Visitors to this site can search for BAH rates by clicking on the current year's "Military Pay Tables" link and scrolling down to the "Allowances" section. See the NCP's pay grade to determine the type and amount of BAH that is available.
The purpose of BAS is to offset the costs of a military member's meals. This allowance is not intended to offset the costs of meals for the family of the military member. Since January 1, 2002, most enlisted members get full BAS, but they must pay for their own meals, including those provided by the government. This allowance should be included in the guideline calculation for support.
BAS rates are available on the following web site: "http://www.dfas.mil/militarypay/militarypaytables.html". Select the current year's "Military Pay Tables" and scroll to the "Allowances" section. Use the information that is listed under "Basic Allowance for Subsistence" to obtain the current BAS rates.
Special Skills Pay is used as additional compensation and incentive pay for servicemembers who possess specialized training, have a specialty qualification, and/or perform hazardous duty. This compensation also applies to military members who are serving in locations where living conditions create undue hardship or are performing designated hardship missions.
This allowance should be included in the guideline calculation for support.
NOTE: Some Special Skills Pay is only paid for a limited time.
Information on Special Pay and Allowances (EX: flight pay, medical officer pay, hazardous duty pay, etc.) appears on the Military NCP's Leave and Earnings Statement (LES). It can also be obtained by visiting this web site: "http://www.dfas.mil/militarypay/militarypaytables.html". Visitors to this site can search for Incentive and Special Pays by clicking on the current year's "Military Pay Tables" link and scrolling to the "INCENTIVES AND SPECIAL PAYS" and/or the "SPECIAL PAYS FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONAL OFFICERS" section. Visitors can then review the appropriate type of of special pay, if known.
Each branch of the military has regulations requiring a duty of support by a servicemember to his/her dependents. Temporary financial support (known as "interim support") might be available in cases where:
CSS caseworkers should pursue the establishment of a child support order rather than attempt to get interim support, unless interim support is the ONLY option available for getting support. Usually, interim support can only be obtained through an administrative or court tribunal, based on the circumstances where it is permitted under local jurisdictional law or statute. Generally, a child support order can be established before interim support can be obtained.
NOTE: The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) does not withhold income for this type of order.
When military regulations indicate a specific amount of interim support, these amounts vary depending on the branch of service. It is usually more than $100 - $150/month, but it is generally less than the amount that is calculated by state child support guidelines.
The Department of the Army has very specific provisions regarding interim support of dependents. The Army's interim support requirements are tied to its Basic Allowance for Housing II (BAH II). The specific amount of interim support also depends on a variety of factors, including number of dependents, other child support orders, etc.
The Navy's "interim support" requirements use a percentage of gross pay.
EX: The amount for a spouse and minor child is one-half (1/2) of gross pay; the amount for one minor child is one-sixth (1/6) of gross pay.
The Marine Corps does not have established interim support measures. However, it has established minimum support at the greater of either a set dollar amount ($350/month) for one child OR one half (1/2) of the monthly BAH/OHA (Overseas Housing Allowance), up to one third (1/3) of the member's gross pay.
The Department of the Air Force has no interim support measures or guidelines in effect for its personnel. The Air Force simply requires its members to "provide adequate financial support" and to "comply with the financial support provisions of a court order or written support agreement."
The Coast Guard's requirements set its interim support for one child at one-sixth (1/6) of the member's basic pay. If the interim support is for a spouse and one child, the requirements are the BAH-DIFFERENTIAL plus twenty-five percent (25%) of the member's basic pay.
A military allotment is the portion of a military member’s pay that is allotted directly to another person (such as a dependent) or to an institution. A military member/noncustodial parent (NCP) can initiate a voluntary allotment for the support of his/her child(ren). Since a voluntary allotment is completely under the military member's control and can be started, stopped, or amended at will by the member, it is strongly recommended that the CSS caseworker pursue a support order through judicial procedures of the court.
However, if a military member/NCP wants to establish a voluntary allotment, caseworkers should use the following procedures:
1. If paternity is not established, proceed with efforts to establish paternity.
2. Explain that the children are in need of financial support and that the NCP is responsible for providing child support. Advise the NCP of the amount of support that the child support guidelines prescribe.
3. Advise the NCP to have DFAS send his/her military allotment directly to the client until such time as a court order for child support is entered. This procedure is particularly important if a military allotment is already in place and/or if the military member/NCP is out of the country.
4. If the support order is payable directly to the client, have the NCP direct his/her allotment to the custodial parent (CP). When the CSS agency has intervened in the local court action, advise the NCP that his/her allotment should be sent to NC Child Support Centralized Collections (NCCSCC) until income withholding is ordered and in place.
The Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) maintains the information on military personnel and their dependents who are enrolled in TRICARE or CHAMPUS (Civilian Health And Medical Program of the Uniformed Services).
TRICARE is a regionally managed health care program for active duty, activated Guard and Reserves, and retired members of the uniformed services AND their families and survivors. (TRICARE and CHAMPUS are often referred to interchangeably. The original CHAMPUS is now referred to as "TRICARE Standard".)
Military noncustodial parents (NCPs) can voluntarily enroll their legal dependent child(ren) in DEERS, which automatically gives the child(en) medical benefits and the use of TRICARE/CHAMPUS. These benefits do not include dental or vision care unless those TRICARE options are selected.
Reservists who are not on active duty and civilian employees of the Department of Defense (DOD) are covered by TRICARE.
Once the dependents are enrolled in DEERS, medical benefits are available through a military medical hospital or clinic or through TRICARE, which entitles the child(ren) to health coverage up to the age of twenty-one (21) or twenty-three (23), if still enrolled in school. TRICARE insurance is employment-related, whether the military member/NCP is on active duty or retired.
TRICARE has three (3) main coverage choices for health care:
Active duty service members and members of the reserves activated for more than thirty (30) consecutive days are automatically enrolled in TRICARE Prime and must complete an enrollment form. Family members of active duty personnel and retired service members and their eligible family members can choose the TRICARE option that best suits their needs. TRICARE "Prime", "Extra", and "Standard" coverage for active duty service members and their families has no enrollment fee, but "Extra" and "Standard" coverage has a deductible.
Retired military members/NCPs can choose "Standard" or "Extra" coverage with a deductible or "Prime" coverage with an annual enrollment fee. The fee is $230/year for one (1) dependent or $460/year for two (2) or more dependents. If a military member/NCP has another health insurance policy in addition to TRICARE, the other insurance is considered the primary carrier and TRICARE is the secondary carrier
Custodial parents (CPs) can obtain general information about TRICARE coverage options, co-pays, deductibles, and providers in their area by accessing these web sites: "http://www.military.com/benefits/tricare/" or "http://www.tricare.mil". CPs who use unauthorized providers are required to pay out-of-pocket for services rendered.
CSS cannot enroll a child in DEERS or TRICARE. Military members/NCPs or CPs can enroll their child(ren) in DEERS and TRICARE by providing any Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification Center (RAPIDS, also known as the "Pass and ID" office) at a military installation with the following:
If the military member/NCP is the party who enrolls the child, he/she should complete a DOD Form 1172 (Application for Uniformed Services Identification Card/DEERS Enrollment) to accompany the documentation.
If a legal determination of paternity for the child(ren) has not been made, the child(ren) can be enrolled in DEERS for health coverage at the time the military member/NCP or CP provides specific documents to the military. The Department of Defense considers children who are born out-of-wedlock to be dependents of a military member/NCP when the military member/NCP or CP presents the following documents to any RAPIDS/Pass and ID office at a military installation:
When the military member/NCP fails to enroll the child(ren), the CP must provide the RAPIDS/Pass and ID office with the military member/NCP's full name and SSN along with the required documentation to effect enrollment. The CP can provide the documents in person or by mail.
Once the CP supplies the Verifying Officer at the military installation with the DEERS documentation listed above, the Verifying Officer asks the military member/NCP to enroll the child(ren). If the military member/NCP refuses to enroll the child, the Verifying Officer enrolls the child and issues a military identification card.
Child(ren) can be enrolled at any time prior to turning twenty-one (21) years of age. If a child is over ten (10) years of age upon enrollment, the military member/NCP is provided with a military identification card for that child. This ID card serves as the child's insurance card and has the military member/NCP's SSN on it as a means of identification.
Most mid-size or larger installations can issue a military ID for the child(ren). CSS should encourage CPs to call in advance to make sure that the installation where they are going can issue an ID for the child(ren).
If CPs want to enroll their child(ren) by mail, they should contact any military installation with a RAPIDS/Pass and ID office, since that is where individuals receive military ID cards.
To obtain the location of the nearest enrollment site or military installation, CPs can access this web site: "http://www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl/owa/home". If CPs do not have access to the Internet, they can contact the DEERS Telephone Center help line at 1-800-538-9552.
All military bases have Health Benefits Advisors who can assist CPs with questions and walk them through the process. The amount of time for this process varies depending on the location and assignment of the military member/NCP.
For information on enrollment, CPs or NCPs can access this web site: "http://www.military.com/benefits/tricare/index/", then select the "Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)" link.
Caseworkers can verify a child is enrolled in DEERS and TRICARE by contacting the CP and/or military member/NCP for the information. Caseworkers can also determine the child(ren)'s status through quarterly DMDC (Defense Manpower Data Center) reports.
DEERS and TRICARE do not verify enrollment information by telephone.
Caseworkers must not send the National Medical Support Notice (DSS-4733) to the Department of Defense. The NCP or CP must enroll the child according to military procedures at an installation that can issue military ID cards or by mail to a RAPIDS center.
For questions or clarification on any of the policy contained in these manuals, please contact your local county office.