Tricare Help

What Tricare options will my wife have once I pass away?

Bookmark and Share

I am a National Guard retiree, age 60, and I’m currently receiving retirement pay. Will my spouse be eligible for Tricare Prime, Standard or Extra when I die?

Your spouse would remain eligible for the same Tricare options and costs that are in effect for her now. When she reaches age 65 and becomes entitled to Medicare, she would transition into Tricare for Life.
However, one large condition is attached to maintaining her Tricare eligibility after your death: She must not remarry. If she does, her Tricare eligibility would cease, and it could never be restored under your sponsorship, even if the second marriage ended in death or divorce.

I know divorce ends eligibility, but what about death?

Bookmark and Share

I have read that Tricare for Life will end for a spouse who divorces a sponsor. My question, is will my wife still have her eligibility if we are still married and I pass away?

If your wife is eligible for Tricare at the time, your death will have no effect on her eligibility. Unless she remarries, she can continue to have Tricare coverage for the rest of her life.

Would I still have Tricare for Life after husband’s death?

Bookmark and Share

I have been married to a retired Army man for six years. He has Tricare for Life, and since I have a DEERS ID card and Medicare parts A and B I know I am eligible for it too. If my husband dies before me, will I still be eligible for TFL, or would I have to be married to him for 20 years?

Your husband’s death would have no effect on your Tricare or Tricare for Life eligibility if he should predecease you. The duration of the marriage is not a factor.

The only exception would be if you remarry. In that case, you would immediately lose all Tricare eligibility under his sponsorship. That eligibility could not be restored even if the second marriage were terminated by divorce or the death of your second husband.

Please confirm the above by calling the DEERS Support Office, toll-free, at 1-800-538-9552.

How do I tell Tricare that a beneficiary has died?

Bookmark and Share

My father was retired military and he died several years ago. My mother has been receiving Tricare benefits while she was in a nursing home until she died last week. I need to notify Tricare of her death. Whom should I contact? Also, does Tricare provide any kind of burial benefits?

Please accept my sincere condolences for your loss.

Tricare does not provide death or burial benefits. To notify Tricare of your mother’s death, call the DEERS Support Office, toll-free, at 1-800-538-9552. DEERS will need your Mother’s full name as it appears on her military identification card, your father’s full name and his Social Security number, your Mother’s date of death, and the name, address, and telephone number of the nursing home.

What happens if my husband passes away?

Bookmark and Share

Q. My husband retired from the Air Force in 1995 and immediately started another career with a firm with great benefits. As a result, we did not enroll in Tricare Prime and have used Tricare as our secondary insurance in only a handful of situations. Now he is losing his battle with cancer and will soon die. At that time, I will lose all my health benefits. Since I am only 60, I will not qualify for Medicare for several more years.

My question is: How do I enroll in Tricare Prime? Who should I contact and what documentation will I need?

As a widow, you will retain your eligibility for Tricare for the rest of your life unless you remarry. If you remarry, you will forever lose your eligibility under your present husband’s sponsorship, even if the second marriage ends by death or divorce.

From the present time until you become entitled to Medicare at age 65, you can be enrolled in either Tricare Standard or Tricare Prime. Tricare Prime is not available everywhere, however. It is usually available only within a 40-50 mile radius of a military hospital.

When you become entitled to Medicare at age 65, you will become eligible for Tricare for Life. Tricare for Life, or TFL, is a Tricare plan that combines the full benefits of Medicare Part A and Part B with the full benefits of Tricare Standard. Tricare Standard will act as a free Medicare supplement for the rest of your life. Tricare for Life members are not eligible for Tricare Prime. They must be enrolled in Tricare Standard as their companion to Medicare under Tricare for Life.

In the meantime, for official information about Tricare eligibility for widows, and for guidance about becoming enrolled in Tricare Standard or Tricare Prime, please call the DEERS Support Office, toll-free, at 1-800-538-9552.

What happens to spouse’s eligibility after my death?

Bookmark and Share

Q. Will my wife still be eligible for Tricare after I die?


Unless she remarries, her Tricare eligibility will continue indefinitely.

If she remarries, her Tricare eligibility under your sponsorship will end immediately. Even if the second marriage ends by death or divorce, her eligibility under your sponsorship cannot be restored.

What will happen to my coverage after husband dies?

Bookmark and Share

Q. My husband retired from the Navy in 1992.  He is now 80 years old and uses Tricare as secondary coverage for Medicare.  I am still working at age 51.  We have been married since 1988.  Will I remain a military dependent after my husband is no longer alive? If so, will I be eligible for Tricare when I reach Social Security Retirement age?

Unless you remarry, your husband’s death will have no effect on your Tricare eligibility.  If you remarry, your Tricare eligibility under your present husband’s sponsorship will terminate immediately.  If the second marriage ends in divorce or death, eligibility under your present husband cannot be restored regardless of circumstances.

You can ensure that you are properly registered and eligible for Tricare at this time by calling the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), toll-free, at 1-800-538-9552. If there is a problem, ask DEERS how to fix it.  It is your responsibility to keep your DEERS record and military identification card up-to-date.

If you become entitled to free Medicare Part A at age 65 and enroll in Medicare Part B, you will become eligible for Tricare for Life, or TFL for short.  Under TFL you will have full benefits of Medicare Parts A and B as your primary coverage and Tricare Standard as a free Medicare supplement for all medical services that are covered by both Medicare and be Tricare.  The vast majority of your Medicare claims will be of that type.

Under TFL, if you receive a medical service that is covered by Tricare but is not covered by Medicare, Tricare will process a claim for that item as if it were your only health insurance.  In that case, all Tricare claims processing rules will apply including the Tricare cost share and, if applicable on that claim, the Tricare deductible.

Some people become eligible for free Medicare Part A before they are 65 under a Social Security plan for disabled persons.  If they enroll in Part B, they become eligible for TFL just as if they were 65.  Call the Social Security Administration about Social Security disability benefits.  Social Security cannot give you official information about Tricare or Tricare for Life.

For more information about Tricare Plans, including TFL, please go the official Tricare website. You will also find contact information for your Regional Tricare Office at that site.

Will I still be covered after husband’s death?

Bookmark and Share

Q. My husband retired from the Navy in 1994.  He is now 76 years old and uses Tricare as secondary coverage for Medicare.  I am still working at age 55.  We have been married since 1989.  Will I remain a military dependent after my husband is no longer alive? If so, will I be eligible for Tricare when I reach Social Security Retirement age?

Unless you remarry, you will remain elibible for Tricare/Tricare for Life for the rest of your life.  Your husband’s death will have no effect on your Tricare eligibility.
 
When you become entitled to Medicare and are enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B, you will automatically become eligible for Tricare for Life under present law.
 
You can confirm the above by calling the DEERS Support Office, toll-free, at 1-800-538-9552.

If we marry and my husband dies, will I be eligible?

Bookmark and Share

Q. My fiance  is 84, a retired Navy man, and he’s just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He would like me to marry him so I can be covered by Tricare after his death.

My question is, if he dies — say, a month after marriage — would I still be eligible for Tricare benefits?

Your fiance should contact the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, better known as DEERS, for instructions to enroll you in Tricare.  That can be done only through the uniformed services.  DEERS is the official Defense Department agency that will provide the help he will need to do that. The toll-free number for DEERS is 1-800-538-9552.

You will become legally entitled to Tricare the moment your husband kisses the bride.  If he were to die in the next minute, your Tricare eligibility will still be in effect.  It is the fact of your legal marriage that creates your Tricare eligibility, immediately.  To use Tricare, of course, there will be administrative details to accomplish.  Call DEERS for help.

You didn’t mention your age.  If you are, or if you become, entitled to Medicare, federal law requires you to be enrolled both in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B to qualify for Tricare eligibility.

For the rest of your life, you will be responsible for checking your registration in DEERS to keep it up-to-date, and to promptly advise DEERS of any changes in your status, such as an address change.

Similarly, you will be responsible for keeping your military identification card up-to-date.  At least 90 days before your card expires you will need to contact DEERS for help with renewing it.

Every time a Tricare claim is processed, the claims processing computer automatically contacts the DEERS computer to ensure that the patient on the Tricare claim was eligible for Tricare on the date she received the medical care.  At that time, also, Tricare confirms the beneficiary’s eligibility generally by comparing the information on the claim form with the information in the beneficiary’s DEERS record.  Thus, you see the need to keep it up to date.  Discrepancies can cause claims to be denied until they are corrected.

If you are, or if you become, entitled to Medicare and are enrolled in Part B, you will be eligible for the Tricare program named Tricare for Life, also called TFL for short.  TFL is a Tricare plan created by Congress in 2001.  It allows a Tricare beneficiary who has Medicare to use Tricare Standard as second payer to her Medicare A and B coverage.  In the vast majority of claims, the combined payments by the two federal benefit programs will pay your medical bills in full.

I suggest you visit the official Tricare web site now.  Here you can locate your Regional Tricare Office (make a permanent record of the contact information — that will be your primary source for official Tricare help and information), see  an overview of the Tricare plans, and — if you are entitled to Medicare now, or will become entitled soon, and are enrolled in Part B — look at the information about TFL and download a Tricare for Life Handbook.

If you are not near Medicare entitlement age (65), your choices for coverage will be Tricare Standard or Tricare Prime.

Prime is not available in all areas, so if you are interested in that plan, call your Regional Office again to ask if Prime is available for persons in your residential area.  Tricare Prime costs the least in out-of-pocket expenses, but it also has certain inconveniences for members who travel frequently.

Under Prime, you must use only certain providers in your local area who are under contract with Tricare to provide care at discounted rates.  Prime membership also allows you priority access to your nearby military treatment facility where you can get free medical care including hospitalization.

When you become eligible for Tricare, it is for life, unless, as a widow, you remarry.  If you remarry, you will lose all military benefits from this husband.  They can never be restored, even if the next marriage ends in death or divorce.

All Tricare beneficiaries without exception are automatically eligible for and are enrolled in the Tricare Pharmacy Program.  It is one of the very best prescription drug programs in the nation.  It needs no help from any other pharmacy insurance plan. You can get a 90-day supply of a drug for the same price as you pay for a 30-day-or-less supply when purchased locally.

My husband passed away. Am I still eligible?

Bookmark and Share

Q. I have recently become a widow to a 20-year retired Navy man. Am I still entitled to Tricare for life? Thank you.

Your husband’s death will have no effect whatsoever on your Tricare for Life coverage.  Your eligibility will continue for the rest of your life under your late husband’s sponsorship unless you remarry.  In that event, you would immediately lose your Tricare for Life eligibility under his sponsorship.  It can never be restored, even if your second marriage were to end in divorce or death.

I strongly suggest that you call the DEERS Support Office to learn whether there are any administrative details you need to handle, and to ensure that your DEERS record is correct and up-to-date.  The toll-free number for the DEERS Support Office is 1-800-538-9552.

Please check the expiration date on your Military Dependents’ Identification card.  If there are less than 90 days remaining before it expires, ask DEERS for complete instructions about renewal.  Take careful notes.  It is vitally important that you maintain your DEERS record and ID card up-to-date at all times, for the rest of your life.  It is your responsibility.

Check your DEERS record at least once yearly for accuracy, and promptly report to DEERS any changes in your status, such as an address change.  You can rely on DEERS and your Tricare Service Center for help with Tricare for Life problems, and Tricare Help is always at your service.  That address, again, is tricarehelp@atpco.com.

Please note that Tricare Help is a service provided to its readers by the Army Times Publishing Company.  Neither Tricare Help nor I have any official connection with the Defense Department or Tricare.  All information provided by Tricare Help is unofficial and should not be relied upon for making decisions about benefits, claims, or eligibility.

It appears that you may not be well-informed about your rights and responsibilities under Tricare for Life.  When you are talking with DEERS, ask them for the telephone number of your Tricare Service Center.  Call that office and request a free Tricare for Life Handbook, or you can download one here.  Make a permanent record of the contact information for that office.  You are sure to need to talk with them from time to time for official help and information.

I strongly recommend that you spend some time browsing the Tricare web site as well. The overview is a good place to start.  The better you understand Tricare, the better it will serve you.

DEERS is part of the Defense Department.  It is a federal agency.  Its only function is to manage issues concerning Tricare eligibility.  DEERS cannot provide any information about the Tricare program or Tricare claims.

For information or help regarding the Medicare portion only of Tricare for Life, please call Medicare, toll-free, at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).  Do not ask Medicare any questions regarding the Tricare or Tricare for Life programs.  Medicare does not know Tricare’s rules.  Medicare and Tricare are unrelated programs.  Only their benefit payments are combined under Tricare for Life.  Tricare for Life operates under the authority of Tricare and the Defense Department, not Medicare.