Tricare Help

Can widow of active-duty member keep coverage if she has more children?

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I’m the widow of an active-duty service member. I have two daughters from that marriage. I’m not thinking of remarrying, but I would like to have more children in the near future. How will that affect benefits for me and the child I carry?

As the surviving spouse of an active-duty member, you remain eligible for Tricare coverage for life, as long as you do not remarry. Your two daughters from your marriage to the active-duty member remain eligible for Tricare – again, as long as you do not remarry – until they reach age 21, or age 23 if they are full-time college students.

Should you become pregnant again, Tricare will cover your pregnancy-related medical care up to and including the birth, as well as any post-natal care you may require. However, the baby will not be eligible for Tricare coverage under your late husband’s sponsorship. The only way the baby could be covered under Tricare is if the father is another Tricare-eligible beneficiary.

What happens to wife’s coverage if I die before she does?

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I’m retired Navy and 90 years old. I lost my first wife after 62 years and have since remarried. My wife and I are both registered with DEERS and presently covered with Tricare for Life. My question: When I pass on, will my wife still be covered by Tricare for Life?

Yes. Survivors of military retirees remain eligible for Tricare, with all the same health plan options and costs they had before their sponsor passed away. They remain eligible indefinitely, with one caveat: they would lose their Tricare eligibility if they remarried, and eligibility could not be restored even if the subsequent marriage were to end in death or divorce.

So, if you pass away before your wife, she would indeed remain eligible for Tricare for Life as long as she did not remarry, and as long as she remained enrolled in Medicare Part B and paid the Part B monthly premiums.

After husband’s death, do I need to change my ID card?

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My husband passed away recently and I am trying to get my affairs in order. Do I need to get a new military ID? I just got a new one in September, but it has my husband’s name on it.

Assuming your husband was a military retiree, the answer is yes, you need to get an updated ID card that designates you as a surviving spouse. Your current uniformed services ID card technically expired on the date of your husband’s death, and it must be renewed within 30 days of the death to maintain unbroken eligibility for various military benefits, including Tricare health coverage.

You also must update your registration information in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, the Defense Department’s portal for benefits eligibility.
You can find the nearest ID card/DEERS office through this website. You may also try to call the main DEERS support office toll-free at 1-800-538-9552 for further guidance and information.

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Can widow of two years still get coverage?

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My 22-year-old daughter was married to a Marine who was killed two years ago in a training accident. At that time, she was in college and had the school’s medical insurance. I understood that she was eligible for Tricare since she was a widow of an active-duty Marine. She has now graduated. Could you bring me up to speed on what benefits are available to her?

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, and 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 in order to be properly registered so she can use her Tricare benefits. Call 1-800-538-9552.


Does elderly widow need ID card to keep using Tricare?

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My father-in law recently passed away at age 94. His daughter has been told that for his 92-year-old invalid widow to keep Tricare coverage for herself she must go an Army base to have a new photo taken for a replacement ID card. Is this true?

Yes, a valid military identification card is required to use Tricare. If your mother-in-law does not have a current, valid military ID, you and your wife must arrange to help her get one in order for her to access her Tricare benefits. This can be done through the ID card issuing office of any military installation (it does not have to be an installation of the particular branch that your father-in-law served in). That office will tell you what documentation your mother-in-law would need to bring to verify her status as a retiree family member for military health care purposes.

In addition, to use Tricare your mother-in-law must be properly registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. DEERS must be informed of any change in family status of military beneficiaries; your mother-in-law has had such a change with the death of her military retiree sponsor. For more information, call the DEERS support office toll-free at 1-800-538-9552.

Any military retirees or their dependents over age 65 use the Tricare program called Tricare for Life, which requires enrollment in Medicare Part A (free inpatient hospitalization insurance) and Part B (outpatient insurance, requiring payment of premiums that currently run about $100 a month). Claims for medical services are submitted first to Medicare, and then Tricare pays whatever Medicare does not. On the vast majority of claims, this combination will cover 100 percent of the bill. Tricare for Life also has a fairly low-cost pharmacy program for prescription drugs.

Many older retirees handle all the family business for both themselves and their spouses. Then when the retiree passes away, he leaves his spouse not knowing what she needs to know to continue accessing her military benefits in his absence, particularly critical health care benefits. We hear of situations like this fairly often. Unfortunately, from the information you have provided, this may have been the case with your in-laws.

Am I eligible for TFL under late ex-husband’s sponsorship?

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I am the ex-wife of a career airman who is now deceased. We were married in 1953 and divorced in 1974. He enlisted in the Air Force in early 1947 and retired in late 1971. He remarried after our divorce. I remained single for years, but also eventually remarried, in 2003. I am now on Medicare Parts A and B. Am I entitled to any Tricare for Life benefits, or any health care benefits at all?

To be eligible for Tricare as the former spouse of a military retiree, you must meet several criteria. First, you must have been married for at least 20 years. Second, at least 20 years of the marriage must have overlapped with the service member’s active-duty time. Your ex-husband’s service from 1947 to 1971 means even though you were married for more than 20 years total, only 18 of those years overlapped with his time on active duty.

However, even if your marriage had overlapped with at least 20 years of his active-duty career, you still wouldn’t qualify for Tricare benefits, for the simple reason that you remarried. Former military spouses who meet the 20-year criteria can access Tricare benefits only as long as they remain single. By remarrying, they forfeit all eligibility to Tricare health coverage. And once that happens, eligibility can never be restored, even if the former spouse’s second marriage ends in divorce or death.

I know divorce ends eligibility, but what about death?

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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.

What happens to wife’s coverage if I die before 60?

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I am a 57-year-old gray-area reservist. What will happen to my wife’s Tricare and Tricare for Life eligibility if I die before I am 60?

The death of the military sponsor has no effect on the Tricare or Tricare for Life eligibility of family members.

On your 60th birthday, you will become entitled to retired pay. If you submitted the required applications through your reserve component, you and your family will become eligible for Tricare.

If you die before that time, your eligible survivors will become Tricare beneficiaries on the day you would have turned 60, again contingent upon proper application through your reserve component.

If your widow remains unmarried, if her Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System registration is up to date, and if she is enrolled in Part B of Medicare, she will become entitled to Tricare for Life when her Medicare entitlement begins at age 65.

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

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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.

Does ex-wife lose eligibility if husband dies?

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If a woman divorced from a retired military member is now enrolled in Tricare under the 20-20-20 rule, does she remain eligible for Tricare if the sponsor dies?

Even if the sponsor dies, the former spouse’s Tricare eligibility will continue. The only thing that will end eligibility is if the former spouse remarries. You can confirm this by calling the DEERS at 1-800-538-9552.

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