Q. My daughter has been married for the last eight years to a soldier who decided, while in Afghanistan, that he did not want to be married to her anymore and got engaged to another woman over the Internet. The Army knows that my daughter has two chronic illnesses and has always made sure that she is close to medical care for them. I know their two children will stay on Tricare, but is there any way that she can, too?
A. Unfortunately, the answer is no. The regulations governing Tricare have very specific criteria for extending coverage to former spouses following divorce. To be eligible for full Tricare benefits, a former spouse must have been married to a service member for at least 20 years, the member must have served in the military for at least 20 years, and the marriage and the member's military service must have overlapped by at least 20 years. This is known as the "20/20/20 rule." Former spouses who meet those criteria remain eligible for lifetime Tricare coverage as long as they do not remarry.
Since your daughter's marriage has lasted only eight years, she will lose her Tricare coverage when the divorce becomes final.
Just as an aside, your daughter might want to make her husband's command aware of her situation. If her husband has indeed become engaged to another woman while still legally married to your daughter, that may run afoul of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Q. I am on active duty and will be retiring in about a year. I have two disabled children, ages 20 and 17. I have been told that they will be eligible for Tricare even after I retire. Is this true? If so, what should I be doing now to ensure continuity of care?
A. Children of Tricare-eligible beneficiaries generally are eligible for Tricare coverage until age 21, or until age 23 if they are full-time college students. This is true regardless of whether the sponsor is active duty or retired.
After that, children can be covered under a relatively new program called Tricare Young Adult until age 26. However, Tricare Young Adult requires payment of monthly premiums.
Since your children are disabled, there may be special considerations in your case. Disabled dependent children may remain eligible for Tricare beyond the normal age limits, depending on the nature and severity of their disabilities.
As you get closer to retirement, you should contact the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System support office. DEERS is the Defense Department's eligibility portal for Tricare. Let them know of your imminent change in status and ask for guidance. You can reach that office at 800-538-9552.