Q. I’m a full-time student but my ID card expires next month and I turn 23 two months after that. I won’t be finished with school for another year. Can I renew my ID card until I graduate? Also, am I still covered under Tricare or will I lose that when I lose my ID?
A. Age 23 is the cutoff for continued Tricare eligibility in full-time student status. If you wish to stretch your coverage through your last possible day of eligibility a few months from now, you will need to seek a short-term renewal on your ID card. Contact the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System for further guidance and information. You can do that by visiting the ID card/DEERS office on any military installation or by calling the main DEERS support office toll free at 800-538-9552.
Determination of full-time student status in situations such as yours is made not by the military, but rather by your school. You may need to provide DEERS a copy of a letter from the admissions office at your school officially designating you as a full-time student. That status generally extends through routine semester breaks, although again, in your case, it can extend no longer than your 23rd birthday.
At that point, your only Tricare option will be a relatively new program called Tricare Young Adult, which requires enrollment and payment of monthly premiums. TYA eligibility for dependent children ends at age 26. More information is online here: www.tricare.mil/Plans/HealthPlans/TYA.aspx.
Q. My fiancee is being medically retired from the military. Her son is covered by Tricare under her sponsorship. She was told that if she marries me, her son can no longer be covered. Is that true?
A. Whoever told your fiancee that is grossly misinformed. A service member medically retired from the military short of 20 years of service enjoys the same benefits as a “regular” retiree who serves 20 years or more. One of those benefits is lifetime Tricare coverage.
Children and spouses of both medical and regular retirees also are eligible for Tricare coverage under the retiree’s sponsorship as long as they are properly registered as the retiree’s dependents in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System.
Children are eligible for Tricare until age 21, or age 23 if they are full-time college students. After that, they are eligible until age 26 for Tricare Young Adult, which requires enrollment and payment of monthly premiums.
Someone who marries a military retiree also is eligible for Tricare as long as the marriage lasts. There is no limit on the number of eligible dependents a particular military sponsor may simultaneously register in DEERS.
Write to Tricare Help, Times News Service, 6883 Commercial Drive, Springfield, VA 22159; or firstname.lastname@example.org. In email, include the word “Tricare” in the subject line and do not attach files. Get Tricare advice any time at www.militarytimes.com/tricarehelp.