Arizona law establishes that “federal disability benefits awarded to the other spouse for service-connected disabilities . . . ” cannot be considered by the court in a dissolution proceeding and request for spousal maintenance.” ARS 25-530. The specific federal disability benefits falling under this prohibition are 10 USC 1413a (CRSC, combat-related special compensation) and 38 USC, Chapter 11 (compensation for service-connected disability).
In any case involving military retired pay (MRP), the attorney representing the non-military spouse should keep in mind that MRP can be converted to disability pay or CRSC after the divorce decree is final, thus reducing the non-member’s retired pay. The portion of MRP which later becomes disability pay or CRSC will NOT be divided with the non-member spouse, no matter what the original decree states. This was made clear in the Howell and Merrill decisions in 2017. (See this previous post.)
While the non-military spouse may qualify for maintenance under other grounds not related to the MRP, the chance that the spouse’s portion of MRP will be reduced in the future is NOT a basis to request spousal. The non-military spouse’s attorney should always carefully review all factors to determine if there’s some other basis for a spousal maintenance award, even a small one, to possibly keep maintenance under the court’s jurisdiction in case of future changes.