Great news for military spouses: under the new Milspouse Licensure Reimbursement, spouses can now apply for reimbursement of up to $500 for professional relicensing costs when they relocate with their service member. The new policies are retroactive to Dec. 12, 2017 so you can take advantage of this reimbursement now.
The Licensure Reimbursement program is a result of military spouse grassroots efforts and legislative petitions over the past few years. When service members receive PCS orders to a new state, their spouses are often faced with a difficult decision. Should they remain in the current state where they already have a career and a professional license to work? Or should they move with their service member to a new location that will require them to start over?
Professional certifications affect many careers, from lawyers to teachers to medical assistants and mental health professionals. Regardless of their experience and training background, professionals are not authorized to work in a state without meeting the certification requirements of that state. This means military spouses with professional license certifications must go through the process of becoming re-certified in the new location every time a PCS move takes them across state lines. Not only can this mean months of missed work and income, but the application fees for a new professional license can quickly add up to hundreds of dollars.
For years, service members and military advocates have urged state lawmakers to make license transfers a more efficient process for military families. Currently, just 10 states issue temporary in-state licenses so military spouses can begin work immediately. Other states grant recognition of out-of-state certifications or offer temporary licenses with limitations. You can view the differences on this map of the Military Spouse Interstate License Recognition from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence and a strong advocate for military families, has spoken about the challenges of military spouse employment on multiple occasions. She recently said that “The Pentagon estimated that about 37% of military spouses in the workforce had professions requiring a state license.” When those spouses move, they are faced with out-of-pocket expenses just to earn the right to continue their job in a new state.
This year, the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps have all announced plans to reimburse military spouses up to $500 after a PCS move to cover the cost of state licensure or certification. The process varies slightly by branch, but the overall results are the same: military spouses can now complete a PCS move and look for a new job without stressing about paying out of pocket for new licensing or certification programs. Because the reimbursement is tied to PCS orders, it can be used any time a family moves to a new state. The benefit is not limited to a single move.
The Air Force will reimburse claims retroactively. The service member should seek reimbursement through the servicing finance office. They should supply a copy of the PCS orders, a copy of the spouse’s original state occupational license, and the paid receipts for items required to obtain relicensing from the new state (exams, registration fees, etc.) The costs must have been incurred and paid after the service member’s orders are authenticated, and no more than 24 months from that point.
Army families can find reimbursement details in the All Army Activities message, ALARACT 036/2019. The service member will need to access the instructions and file the claim.
The Navy announced its program this summer, allowing Sailors to apply for a $500 reimbursement on behalf of their spouses. “This is part of an ongoing effort to show Navy families we are working to expand family support programs and facilitate spouse employment opportunities,” said Perry Christiansen, lead for the Navy’s family readiness programs policy, in a statement. The benefit is being rolled out in a 5-year pilot program.
The Marine Corps followed the other branches. Details for their program can be found in MARADMIN 304/19. It explains which fees are covered, and any expenses that are excluded from reimbursement. A Marine can request the reimbursement by presenting a copy of the PCS orders, the previous state license, and the new state license, along with a receipt of relicensing fees to the Personnel Admin Office.
The Licensure Reimbursement program is great news for military spouses. Not only does it make PCS moves to a new state more affordable, but it also makes professional certifications more useful and longer-lasting. Spouses no longer need to question whether it will be worthwhile to invest in a certification program or wonder if they will be able to continue working at the next duty station. Now military spouses can continue to build on meaningful careers, no matter where PCS moves take them.