This blog is the most recent in a series helping members of the Coast Guard family understand how to use their TRICARE benefits. The blog series will continue every Monday, right here on Coast Guard All Hands.
Written by Cmdr. Paul Fawcett
If a change in your family circumstances is going to occur, or has occurred due to a divorce, it’s important that you are aware of the TRICARE coverage that may be available for former spouses, biological children and adopted children.
Former spouses of active-duty service members or reservists covered by TRICARE benefits lose their eligibility for TRICARE at 12:01 a.m. on the day the divorce becomes final unless they meet certain circumstances. Former spouses may remain eligible for TRICARE as their own sponsor if:
- The 20-20-20 rule: If the sponsor (military member) has or had at least 20 years of creditable service towards retirement, and the former spouse was married to the same service member for 20 years, and 20 years of marriage and service overlap.
- The 20-20-15 rule: If the sponsor (military member) has or had at least 20 years of creditable service towards retirement, and the former spouse was married to the same service member for 20 years, and 15 years of marriage and service overlap you may be eligible for coverage for a limited period depending on your date of divorce. See the TRICARE website for specific details.
If you do not meet the above criteria, you are not eligible for TRICARE coverage after the finalization of your divorce. If you are eligible for TRICARE as a former spouse of a military member, you will lose your eligibility if you remarry, even if that marriage ends in divorce or death, or if you are covered under an employer-sponsored health plan.
To prove your eligibility as a former spouse, you’ll need a copy of your marriage license, a copy of your divorce decree from the eligible member and a copy of a DD-214 from the eligible member. You will need to present these documents to the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) to establish your eligibility. You can then be issued an ID card in your own name. Your healthcare data will now be recorded using your social security number, not your former spouses.
Biological and adopted children of an eligible beneficiary do not lose their eligibility as a result of divorce, even if they do not reside with the eligible member. A child loses their eligibility if they:
- Become married
- Enter active military service
- “Age out” at age 21, or 23 if they are in college
Step children lose eligibility for TRICARE once DEERS has been updated with the divorce decree.
Q: Where can I get more information regarding TRICARE and divorce?
A: Visit the TRICARE website for additional information.
Q: Can a non-TRIARE eligible former spouse purchase TRICARE coverage?
A: No. Coverage ends with the finalization of the divorce.
Q: What are my responsibilities as a military member?
A: You must update DEERS with your status as a divorced member using a copy of your divorce decree as a source document. You are required to take such steps as necessary to ensure your dependent children are properly enrolled in TRICARE so that they may receive medical care, even if they are not residing with you.
Have more questions about your TRICARE benefits? Leave a note in the comments below!