Health Care

Tricare Help: Retirement doesn't affect '20/20/20'

Q. My husband is being medically retired from the service. We are now separated and plan to divorce. He has served more than 20 years, so I'll be eligible for continued health care coverage under the "20/20/20" rule. But do I have to wait for his whole medical discharge to go through before I can file for divorce for me to be able to claim coverage under the 20/20/20 rule? This isn't a very healthy situation we're going through, and I'd like it to be officially over.

A. There are three official criteria for former spouses to qualify for post-divorce Tricare coverage under the 20/20/20 rule, taken verbatim from the Tricare website:

1. Your sponsor has at least 20 years of creditable active or reserve service toward determining retirement pay.

2. You were married to the same sponsor/service member for at least 20 years.

3. All 20 years of marriage overlap the 20 years of creditable active or reserve service that counts toward your sponsor's retirement.

Nowhere in the above criteria does it specify that the military sponsor must already be retired; the criteria simply state that the sponsor must have already served at least 20 years in uniform that are creditable toward military retirement. So if your husband has served more than 20 years already, you are eligible now for post-divorce Tricare coverage under the 20/20/20 rule.

Former spouses who qualify for Tricare under the 20/20/20 rule become their own sponsors in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System database. They lose their Tricare coverage if they remarry, and it cannot be restored later even if the subsequent marriage ends in death or divorce.

For more information, call the main DEERS support office at 800-538-9552, or visit www.tricare.mil/Plans/Eligibility/FormerSpouses.aspx.

Q. My boyfriend and I are concerned that his son will not have health coverage for a time after he graduates from Advanced Individual Training. He graduates midmonth, but we were told that even if he enrolled in Tricare now, his coverage would not begin until the first day of the following month. He will be serving in an Army Reserve unit after he graduates.

A. Your last comment is the operative one in your question. Unfortunately, Tricare Reserve Select, the Tricare option that your boyfriend's son is most likely set on, requires enrollment that is indeed tied to the first of the month. You and your boyfriend were informed correctly. For more information, your boyfriend's son can contact the managed-care contractor for the Tricare region in which he lives. Toll-free contacts for all Tricare regions can be found here: www.tricare.mil/ContactUs/CallUs.aspx.

Email tricarehelp@militarytimes.com. Include the word "Tricare" in the subject line and do not attach files.

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