How Does Divorce Affect Your TRICARE Benefit?
Closing the chapter on a marriage can be a confusing time. If you’re going through a divorce, you may be wondering about your TRICARE benefits. Divorce, annulment, or dissolution of a marriage is a TRICARE Qualifying Life Event (QLE). This QLE allows you and family members to make changes to your TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select health plan outside of TRICARE Open Season. To help you and your loved ones understand your TRICARE health care options after getting divorced, here are some things to know.
After a divorce, the sponsor remains eligible for TRICARE. This is the same for the sponsor’s biological and adopted children. The former spouse only remains eligible for TRICARE if he or she meets certain criteria. If not, the former spouse stays 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.
After the divorce is final, the sponsor must update the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). To do this, bring a certified copy of the divorce decree or annulment to a local ID card office. The sponsor and eligible children have 90 days after the divorce to change their TRICARE health plan, if they choose.
Continuing Eligibility for Former Spouses
If you and your service member spouse are separated or living apart, but not divorced, you keep TRICARE. After the 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 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 all 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. Unlike the 20/20/20 rule, you only have full coverage for one year after the divorce.
Establishing Eligibility for Former Spouses
If you meet requirements for TRICARE as a former spouse, you’ll be listed in DEERS under your own Social Security number or Department of Defense Benefits Number. You will not be listed under your former sponsor’s. To establish eligibility, you need your marriage certificate, divorce decree, and proof of service. To show proof of service, you need DD Form 214 or Statement of Service from the applicable Service Personnel Component.
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. You’ll lose TRICARE benefits if you remarry or enroll in an employer-sponsored health plan.
Losing TRICARE Eligibility
If you don’t meet the above requirements as a former spouse, 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 former spouses of sponsors who served in NATO or Partners for Peace.
- 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. 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.
Going through a divorce is difficult. But finding out what your health plan options are after divorce doesn’t have to be. Visit Qualifying Life Events and learn more about TRICARE coverage after divorce. This is one way to take command of your health.
Last Updated 4/13/2022