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Are former military spouses still eligible for TRICARE?

We've been discussing in fairly general terms over the past few weeks the division of property and assets, including military benefits, in a divorce where one or more partners is a current or former service member. Let's devote a little more focus this week to one particular benefit that will likely be of concern to any partners to a military divorce: that is TRICARE.

TRICARE is the health care program covering U.S. military personnel. In many cases, their civilian spouses and children can also enjoy coverage under the system -- in fact, 9.5 million people across the world today receive TRICARE coverage. Therefore, anyone contemplating or going through a military divorce will need to ask the question: how does TRICARE affect former military spouses? Are they still eligible for coverage?

There are a number of scenarios in which former spouses may continue to receive TRICARE coverage. It's important to note up front that those who are eligible can use their own Social Security number when accessing care, filing claims for benefits and following up on their medical records; they don't need to try to go through their former sponsor to do so.

When seeking to establish oneself as an "unremarried former spouse," some paperwork will be required. A copy of a statement of service or DD Form 214 from the relevant service personnel component is one piece. In addition to that, copies of the marriage certificate and divorce decree are needed. These three will qualify an unremarried former spouse to move into the next step for consideration -- the various "rules" (e.g., "20-20-20" or "20-20-15").

We'll look at these rules and TRICARE eligibility criteria for former military spouses next week in more detail. This discussion, it should be noted, is not intended as specific legal advice, but as general information only.

Source: Tricare, "Former Spouses," accessed on March 13, 2015

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