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News | March 25, 2021

I’m Getting Divorced. What Happens to My TRICARE Benefit?

By TRICARE Communications

If you’re getting divorced, the future may seem uncertain. One question in your mind may be whether you’ll still be eligible for TRICARE. The answer depends on your sponsor status, length of your marriage, and other factors. Read more so you and your loved ones understand your TRICARE health care options after divorce.
 
“After a divorce, the sponsor and both the sponsor’s biological and the sponsor’s adopted children remain eligible for TRICARE,” said Mark Ellis, chief of the Policy Programs Section of the TRICARE Health Plan at the Defense Health Agency. “The former spouse only remains eligible for TRICARE if he or she meets certain criteria, and any stepchildren of the sponsor which the sponsor did not adopt lose eligibility.”
 
I’m the sponsor. What do I do?
After the divorce is final, you must bring a certified copy of the divorce decree or annulment to a local ID card office. This way, information in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility System (DEERS) can be updated.
 
Because getting divorced is a TRICARE Qualifying Life Event (QLE), you and your eligible children may make changes to your TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select health plans. You have 90 days after the divorce to do so, if you choose to do so. Check out the TRICARE Qualifying Life Events Fact Sheet to learn more about QLEs. And you can learn more about plan options with the TRICARE Plans Overview.
 
I’m the former spouse. How do I know if I remain eligible?
You remain eligible for TRICARE only if you meet certain criteria. Your sponsor’s military Service Component is responsible for determining your continuing eligibility. If you and your sponsor are separated or living apart, but not divorced, you keep TRICARE benefits. After a divorce, you may be eligible for TRICARE coverage if you fit into one of the following scenarios:
  • 20/20/20: Under the 20/20/20 rule, you keep TRICARE health care benefits for as long as you remain eligible if:
    • You were married to the service member for at least 20 years,
    • The service member served in the armed forces for at least 20 years, and
    • The marriage and the period of service overlapped for at least 20 years.
  • 20/20/15: Under the 20/20/15 rule, you keep TRICARE health care benefits for one year if:
    • You were married to the service member for at least 20 years,
    • The service member served in the armed forces for at least 20 years, and
    • The marriage and the period of service overlapped for at least 15 years.
 
If you don’t meet these criteria, you stay eligible up until the day the divorce is final. If the sponsor didn’t adopt his or her stepchildren, they also lose eligibility once the divorce is final.
 
I’m a former spouse who is still eligible based on criteria above. What do I do next?
To establish eligibility, bring your marriage certificate, divorce decree, and proof of service (DD Form 214 or Statement of Service from the applicable Service Personnel Component) to your local ID card office.
 
“If you meet the former spouse requirements, you’ll be listed in DEERS under your own Social Security number or Department of Defense Benefits Number, not your sponsor’s,” said Ellis.
 
When you qualify for TRICARE as a former spouse, you have the same benefits as a retired family member, and your health plan options depend on where you live. Keep in mind, you’ll lose TRICARE benefits if you remarry or enroll in an employer-sponsored health plan.  

I’m the former spouse and don’t qualify to keep TRICARE. What are my options?
If you don’t meet the requirements, you stay eligible up until the day the divorce is final. After that, you still have health care options. You may:
  • Purchase temporary transitional coverage through the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP). You must apply for CHCBP within 60 days from the date of the divorce. CHCBP coverage isn’t available to you if your sponsor served in NATO or Partners for Peace. Certain former spouses who haven’t remarried before age 55 may qualify for an unlimited duration of coverage.
  • Search the Health Insurance Marketplace to find a civilian health plan or check eligibility for Medicaid in your state.
  • Get coverage through your employer, school, or university.
 
Continuing Eligibility for Children
The sponsor’s biological and adopted children remain eligible for TRICARE after divorce. However, the sponsor’s children will lose eligibility when they turn age 21 (or 23 if in college), marry, or serve on active duty. Once no longer eligible due to age, children up to the age of 26 may qualify to purchase TRICARE Young Adult. If the sponsor didn’t adopt his or her stepchildren, they lose eligibility once the divorce is final. In that case, you may want to explore other health care coverage options available through an employer or the Health Insurance Marketplace.
 
Going through a divorce is hard. But you have health plan options for the road ahead. Learn more about TRICARE coverage after divorce.
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