Secondary Dependents

Who can be secondary dependents?

Secondary (non-primary) dependents can include:

Type Detail


  • Parent
  • Parent-in-law
  • Step-parent
  • Parent by adoption, or
  • Any person who stood ‘in-loco parentis’ to you. This means in the place of a parent. Must be for at least five years prior to your emancipation.
Unmarried children ages 21 and 22

Your child is enrolled in a full course of study at an approved institution of higher learning.

You (the sponsor) is still providing more than half of their financial support.

Unmarried children over age 21, incapable of supporting themselves

Due to mental or physical incapacity. This must occur while the child was either:

  • Your dependent as a member or retired member
  • The dependent of a deceased member while under age 21 or under age 23 and a full-time student.
Ward of the court, unmarried

Legal physical custody of the member was placed:

  • Permanently, or
  • For a period of at least 12 consecutive months.

Applying for your eligible children to be your secondary dependents is the first step to ensure they receive TRICARE benefits and allowances. >>Learn more about secondary dependents.

How do we enroll in a TRICARE Health Plan?

To enroll your secondary dependent, your Uniformed Service must approve your application. If approved, you must then register them in DEERS. Once in DEERS, your Uniformed Service will update their TRICARE eligibility.

To enroll a secondary dependent in a TRICARE health plan:

  1. Go to milConnect,
  2. Enroll using the Beneficiary Web Enrollment (BWE) tool. BWE will offer a choice of available plans.

Contact Information

Do you need help? You can get help with your enrollment and health plan questions. Reach out to your:


Regular recurring redeterminations may be required to maintain your secondary dependent’s eligibility.

Follow the instructions provided by your Uniformed Service. This will ensure there’s no break in their TRICARE health plan coverage.

Last Updated 1/3/2023