Unmarried biological and adopted children are eligible for TRICARE until age 21 (or 23 if in college, see "College Students" below).

  • Eligibility may extend beyond these age limits if he or she is severely disabled.
  • At age 21 or 23, he or she may qualify to purchase TRICARE Young Adult.  

Register in DEERS

To register your child (newborn or adopted) in DEERS, you need the following documents:

  • A certificate of birth or adoption:
    • If born in the United States—an original or certified-copy of the birth certificate or certificate of live birth signed by the attending physician or other hospital representative
    • If born overseas—a consular report of birth (FS-240)
    • If adopted—a record of adoption or a letter of placement of the child into the home by a recognized placement/adoption agency or the court before the final adoption
  • An Application for Identification Card/DEERS Enrollment (DD Form 1172-2) 
    • The form needs to be signed by the sponsor and verifying official at an ID card office.
    • If the sponsor can't sign the form in person at an ID card office, the spouse or legal guardian needs either a notarized copy of the form or a power of attorney.

Apply for a Social Security Number

You don't need a Social Security number (SSN) when you first register your child in DEERS, but you need to update DEERS with the SSN when you have it. To apply for your child's SSN:

  • Apply online 
  • Call 1-800-772-1213  

Child Scenarios


  • Step-children are eligible for TRICARE as long as the parent of the child and sponsor are married.  
  • If the marriage ends in divorce, the step-children lose eligibility on the date the divorce decree is final.
  • If the sponsor adopts his or her step-children, they remain covered as adopted children even if the marriage ends in divorce.

College Students

Eligibility can be extended up to age 23 if:

  • Your child is enrolled in a full course of study at an approved institution of higher learning
  • You're still providing more than half of their financial support 

You'll need a letter from the school's registrar's office stating that your child is enrolled full-time in an accredited college in pursuit of an Associate's Degree or higher.

Eligibility ends on your child's 23rd birthday or when he or she is out of school, whichever comes first. 

Surviving Children

Children whose sponsor died while serving on active duty remain eligible for TRICARE until they lose eligiblity for TRICARE due to age, marriage or any other reason. >>Learn More

Other Scenarios

Children in the following scenarios may be eligible for TRICARE under certain conditions:

  • If born out of wedlock 
  • When placed in the custody of a sponsor, either by a court or recognized adoption agency, in anticipation of legal adoption

Last Updated 6/4/2014

contact Your Contacts
DMDC Support Office

Toll-free: 1-800-538-9552
TTY/TTD: 1-866-363-2883
Fax: 1-831-655-8317

Update DEERS Online

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