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Divorce & Tricare

by Brandi Palkoner

Tricare is a civilian health insurance program (previously known as CHAMPUS) established to provide medical benefits to military personnel and eligible dependents. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act allows a former spouse to receive continued Tricare coverage (full or partial) following a divorce under certain qualifying circumstances. Eligibility is based on conditions such as the length of service by the member (sponsor) as well as the overlapping years of marriage.

20-20-20

An ex-spouse can qualify for full insurance benefits through Tricare after a divorce by meeting the following criteria: If the spouse was married to same military member for at least 20 years, the military member served for 20 years (either active duty or reserves) and at least 20 years of both service and marriage overlap, then the spouse may receive full benefits of Tricare. Former spouses who wish to retain full insurance benefits through Tricare must update registration information through the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Registry (DEER), at which time a new military identification card is issued displaying their own social security number in lieu of the sponsor's social security number.

20-20-15

Partial benefits may be available to spouses who do not meet the 20-20-20 rule if the following is true: If the former spouse was married to the same service member for 20 years, the military member served for 20 years and there is an overlap of marriage and service of 15 years, then the ex-spouse may remain covered under Tricare for a limited period of time depending on the date of the divorce. Divorces occurring after September 29, 1988 are eligible for one year of coverage or two years if the divorce was finalized before September 29, 1988 and after April 1, 1985.

Limitations

The former spouse must adhere to certain conditions to maintain eligibility for either full or partial Tricare coverage. Remarriage renders an ex-spouse ineligible for Tricare. The spouse may not receive Tricare if she is covered under private health insurance through her employer.

Alternative Insurance

For ex-spouses who do not meet either the 20-20-20 or 20-20-15 rules or who lose eligibility for Tricare due to remarriage or private insurance through an employer, the Department of Defense (DOD) offers the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP). This program was designed to aid transition from military to civilian health care. Enrollment in the program must be completed within 60 days following the loss of eligibility status and provides insurance to the recipient for up to 36 months. CHCBP is administered by Humana Military Healthcare and the benefits and procedures are similar to Tricare Standard with the exception of required quarterly premiums.

Reporting Changes

Changes to any military benefits must first be updated with DEER. Supporting documentation including marriage certificate, divorce decree, a valid photo ID and Form DD214, as provided by service personnel, may be submitted at the service personnel building (ID card office) to enact benefit changes.

About the Author

Brandi Palkoner brings a refreshing voice to the world of freelance writing. She is a member of Freelance Writers Association. Her lifelong love affair with words began at the early age of 3, when she first learned to read.

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