What Military Spouses Need to Know About the $500 Licensure Reimbursement

What Military Spouses Need to Know About the $500 Licensure Reimbursement
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Updated June 26 with Navy and Coast Guard program details (see chart) and with details on the Army Emergency Relief program.

After mounting pressure from military service organ
izations and Congress, the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force have begun offering a $500 reimbursement to military spouses for relicensing costs related to a PCS move. This benefit is retroactive to Dec. 12, 2017, in all three services. The Navy announced it will release implementation language in June.

[UPDATE: View Program Details for Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard Here]

In a House Armed Services Personnel subcommittee hearing, the services were grilled by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), the subcommittee chair, as to why it has taken so long to implement this policy. Speier also expressed interest in increasing the reimbursement to $1,000.   

The concern over late implementation of this reimbursement is important, as the services will owe Congress a report on utilization rates by the end of 2021. The benefit is set to expire by Dec. 31, 2022, and Congress will have to determine whether to extend it; lawmakers will use this report to help make that determination. However, in the Senate Armed Services Personnel subcommittee markup of the NDAA, a provision was included to extend the program until 2024. We expect this provision to stay intact through the NDAA process. 

Implementation 

To receive the reimbursement, an Army spouse has to provide six documents to their servicemember spouse, who passes them along to the appointed certifying officer in their unit, who then passes them along to the S1, who finally submits them to the local servicing finance office. 

This process seems unnecessarily bureaucratic and cumbersome compared with the Air Force and Marine Corps, where spouses are able to go directly to the local servicing finance office (personal administration office for the Marines) themselves with only three to four documents.  

Additionally, the Army released a memo stating that it will be reporting on utilization rates by Oct. 31 of this year – less than five months after releasing information on how to obtain the reimbursement. With such a process and a premature report date, MOAA is concerned the Army utilization report will not accurately depict the continued need for this benefit.  

MOAA has created a side by side review of the eligibility requirements, reimbursement process, and links to the services. Get that information below, or via this PDF chart; we will continue to bring updates as the other services begin implementing this benefit. Have you taken advantage of this reimbursement? Tell us about your experience at legis@moaa.org. 

ARMY

  • Who is eligible: Spouses of any Regular Army, Army National Guard, and U.S. Army Reserve soldiers reassigned from a duty station in one state to another state. Retroactive to Dec. 12, 2017.
  • How much: Up to $500 reimbursement per PCS. Reimbursement will be made by electronic funds transfer to the soldier's direct deposit within 10 business days.
  • Details: PCS/PCA orders must have reassigned soldier on or after Dec. 12, 2017, from a duty station in one state to a duty station in another state. Dependent-spouse’s move must be authorized at the expense of the government as part of the reassignment. Professional license must be for the same occupation from one duty station to the next duty station.
  • Required documents (submitted to Commander-appointed Certifying Officer; S-1 will forward certified SF 1034 to Local Servicing Finance Office): SF 1034, Public Voucher For Purchases And Services Other Than Personal copy of current and previous PCS orders; copy of spouse’s previous state license/certification (must be from previous duty station) OR if previous PDS honored license via reciprocity, a verification of the reciprocity for license from previous PDS; copy of new state license/certification; proof of fees paid for relicensing; and copy of marriage certificate. 
  • Learn more: Announcement of Army Directive 2019-18.
  • Note: In an effort to offset relicensing costs further, Army Emergency Relief (AER) is providing up to $2,500 of additional reimbursement assistance if needed after the Army’s initial $500 reimbursement.

AIR FORCE

  • Who is eligible: Spouses of any Regular Air Force, Air Force Reserve, or Air National Guard Airmen on Title 10 Orders. Retroactive to Dec. 12, 2017.
  • How much: Up to $500 reimbursement per PCS.
  • Details: PCS orders must be authenticated on or after Dec. 12, 2017, authorizing move at government’s expense. PCS must be from a duty station in one state to a duty station in another state (Cannot be from overseas, and move must be to member’s duty station). Does not apply to moves upon accession to, retirement from, or separation from Air Force. Relicensing costs must be incurred and paid after PCS orders are authenticated and within 24 hours of the authentication of PCS orders. Professional license must be for the same occupation from one duty station to the next.
  • Required documents (submitted to Servicing Finance Office): Copy of applicable PCS/PCA orders; copy of spouse's original state occupational license; paid receipts for items required to obtain rellicensing from new state (exam/registration fees, etc.). 
  • Learn more: Official Air Force program FAQ.

MARINE CORPS

  • Who is eligible: A spouse of any active duty or active reserve Marine Corps spouse who is accompanying their Marine on reassignment to a new state. Retroactive Date: Dec. 12, 2017.
  • How much: Up to $500 reimbursement per PCS.
  • Details: PCS orders must be issued on or after Dec. 12, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2022, and must reassign the Marine from one state to a new duty station in another state. Movement of the Marine's spouse-dependent must be authorized. Does not apply to costs associated with initial assignment orders (not considered a PCS), costs associated with separation or retirement, or costs associated with unsuccessful attempts to transfer license or certification. Professional license or certification must be for the same occupation from one duty station to the next duty station.
  • Required documents (submit to local Personnel Administration Office/Center): Copy of applicable PCS orders; copy of previous certification/license; copy of new recertification/relicensure; receipt showing recertification/relicensing fees.
  • Deadlines: Reimbursement requests for license/certification fees associated with PCS orders issued between December 2017 through May 2019 must be submitted no later than May 2021. Reimbursement requests for license/certification fees associated with PCS orders issued after May 2019 must be submitted no later than 24 months after issued date of PCS orders.
  • Learn more: Marine Administrative Message: Spouse Reimbursement for State Licensure and Certification Costs.
(Service information compiled by Lorren Patton/MOAA Staff)

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About the Author

Eryn Wagnon
Eryn Wagnon

Eryn Wagnon came to MOAA in May 2018 as a military spouse fellow sponsored by the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program. She joined the MOAA staff permanently in July 2018 as Director, Military Family Policy and Spouse Programs.