Implementation of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act

NSIAD-85-4: Published: Oct 24, 1984. Publicly Released: Oct 24, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO summarized the results of its evaluation of how the Department of Defense (DOD) and the military services are implementing the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act.

GAO found that DOD has taken various measures to help ensure fair and consistent implementation of the direct payment provisions of the act and that the services generally have done a good job of implementing them. GAO found that the services routinely approve most direct payment applications that clearly meet the criteria. However, they have not always been consistent in: (1) their interpretations of the specific wording of the act or of court orders; or (2) their procedures for reviewing and approving applications. Therefore, former spouses and retired members are sometimes treated differently depending upon the service from which the member is retired. GAO also found that the act's tax withholding provisions affect the amounts of retirement pay received by members and former spouses. The act requires that retired pay be divided after taxes, which are withheld from only the member, and it allows changes in the member's tax status to affect amount of retired pay the former spouse receives. This procedure works to the disadvantage of the former spouse and to the advantage of the retired member. Finally GAO found that the services rejected most applications for medical, commissary, and exchange benefits because of the act's strict eligibility requirements. Furthermore, the services' procedures for authorizing these benefits vary.

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