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Tricare Help: Young widow just graduated; can she get Tricare?

Nov. 18, 2012 - 02:07PM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 18, 2012 - 02:07PM  |  
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Q. My 22-year-old daughter was married to a Marine who was killed two years ago in a training accident. At the time, she was in college and had the school's medical insurance. I understood that she was eligible for Tricare since she was the widow of an active-duty Marine. She has now graduated. Could you tell me what benefits are available to her?

A. As the surviving spouse of a service member who died while on active duty, your daughter is indeed eligible for full Tricare health coverage for as long as she does not remarry. If she remarries, her eligibility under her deceased husband's sponsorship ends, and it cannot be restored under that sponsorship even if the second marriage ends in death or divorce.

Surviving spouses are responsible for paying applicable Tricare cost-shares. The cost-shares are charged at the active-duty family member rate for the first three years after the death, then charged at the slightly higher military retiree rate after three years.

Your daughter should contact the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System support office. DEERS is the Defense Department's eligibility portal for Tricare, and its support office can tell her what documentation she will need to submit to be properly registered so she can use her Tricare benefits. Call 800-538-9552.

Q. My husband is currently on active duty in the Air Force. I have an 18-year-old sister with a newborn baby who is moving in with us. She is still in high school. Our mother is disabled and unable to care for her and her child. Could my sister get Tricare coverage as our dependent?

A. Siblings generally are not eligible for Tricare. The only way that could happen is if you and your husband were to become the legal guardians of your sister and her baby, and even that is not assured.

Tricare itself does not make these kinds of eligibility determinations; only the military services can do that.

Your husband should inquire about this through the personnel section of his unit. You may also want to call the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System support office at 800-538-9552.

DEERS is the Defense Department's eligibility portal for Tricare, and that office may be able to guide you further.

Q. Will Tricare pay for a medical bill that I received prior to being enrolled?

A. No.

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.

Answers by RallyPoint

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