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Tricare Help: What benefits can spouse keep after divorce?

Aug. 23, 2012 - 08:14PM   |   Last Updated: Aug. 23, 2012 - 08:14PM  |  
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Q. My husband is retired from the Army. We've been married about 2½ years and expect to divorce in the next few months. I'm now covered under his Tricare for Life. Will I be able to retain Tricare benefits after the divorce?

A. Former spouses of military retirees may retain eligibility for Tricare health coverage only if specific criteria are met. The most basic criteria: The marriage must have lasted at least 20 years and must have overlapped with the retiree's military service for at least 20 years.

If those criteria are met, former spouses remain eligible for Tricare coverage for the rest of their lives unless they remarry. Alternately, if the marriage lasted at least 20 years, with at least 15 overlapping with the retiree's military service, former spouses remain eligible for Tricare coverage for one year after the date of the divorce.

Since your marriage will have lasted only about three years, neither scenario applies. When you divorce, your Tricare eligibility will end and Medicare will be your only coverage.

You can confirm the above by calling the Defense Enrollment Eligibility System support office at 800-538-9552. DEERS is the Defense Department's eligibility portal for Tricare.

Q. After 27 years of marriage, my wife wants a divorce. We fulfill the 20-20-20 requirement, so she'll be able to retain Tricare for Life. But does she remain on my record?

A. Your wife will remain covered by TFL as long as she does not remarry. If she remarries, she loses Tricare eligibility, and it can never be restored even if her subsequent marriage ends in death or divorce.

However, Tricare eligibility of an unremarried former spouse is maintained under her own Social Security number, not the former military sponsor's. Health care information is filed under the former spouse's own SSN and name, and she'll use her own SSN and name to schedule medical appointments and file claims.

You and your spouse should contact the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System support office to notify it of your pending change in marital status. You can reach that office at 800-538-9552.

Q. My understanding is that as a former spouse who has not remarried, I'm ineligible for Tricare retiree dental insurance. However, I'm 76 and receive Tricare for Life benefits — does this ineligibility apply to me? If so, is there any Tricare dental plan open to me?

A. The premium-based Tricare Retiree Dental Program is the only dental program for retirees and their family members, both those younger than 65 and those who are Medicare- and TFL-eligible.

Former spouses eligible for Tricare health coverage are not eligible for the Tricare Retiree Dental Program even if they remain unmarried.

Write to Tricare Help, Times News Service, 6883 Commercial Drive, Springfield, VA 22159; or tricarehelp@militarytimes.com. In email, include the word "Tricare" in the subject line and do not attach files. Get Tricare advice anytime at www.militarytimes.com/tricarehelp.

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