Can My Spouse Cancel My Tricare Benefits if We are Going Through a Divorce?

By Heather Frances J.D.

Many military benefits are based on the status of the service member and your relationship to him, including military health insurance, called Tricare. Since a divorce changes your relationship to the military member, your access to benefits changes, and you are no longer eligible for most benefits after your divorce is final. However, your spouse generally cannot terminate your eligibility for benefits while you are still married.

TRICARE

Tricare is the federal program that provides health insurance to military members and their families. Eligibility for Tricare is governed by federal law, and the military member has little control over whether his family members have Tricare benefits. If you are listed as a dependent of your spouse in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility System, you are eligible for Tricare coverage. Tricare is generally free for active duty military members and their families, so active duty members are required to enroll in a Tricare program.

Tricare During Divorce

Until your divorce is final, you are still considered married for purposes of military benefits, including Tricare. Your spouse does not control your eligibility and cannot disenroll you from the program, but he can switch Tricare programs – Tricare Prime or Tricare Standard. Tricare Prime is generally the preferred option if it is available in your area since it does not require copays. Tricare Standard allows you to more easily see out-of-network providers but requires a copay.

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TRICARE After Divorce

After your divorce is final, your spouse can disenroll you from DEERS, which will terminate your Tricare eligibility. You may qualify to continue your Tricare coverage if you were married to your military spouse for at least 20 years, and at least 20 of those years were during your spouse’s military service. You may qualify for one year of Tricare coverage if you were married to your military spouse for at least 20 years, and at least 15 of those years were during his service. If you are not eligible under either of these exceptions, your coverage terminates at 12:01 a.m. on the day your divorce is final.

Tricare Coverage for Children

Even if you lose your Tricare eligibility because of your divorce, your children will still be eligible if they are listed as dependents of your military spouse. If a child is not listed in DEERS as the dependent of the military member – perhaps because the child is the military member’s stepchild and not the biological or adopted child – that child will not be eligible. If a child is eligible, he will remain eligible for Tricare until he turns 21, or 23 if enrolled in college.

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VA Benefits for Divorced Spouses

References

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Spouse's Rights to Military Benefits

As a civilian spouse, your military benefits are typically based on your marital status and a divorce may mean losing those benefits. For example, you may have to give up military health insurance and the ability to shop at the exchange and commissary. However, federal law may allow you to keep these benefits if you have been married for at least 20 years. A divorce court can also award you a portion of your spouse’s retirement pay and can force your spouse to sign up for a plan that pays benefits to you if he dies after retirement.

Can Child Support Use Veterans Disability as Income?

Child support is set by state courts under guidelines established by state laws. Federal benefits, like those administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, are not subject to state laws or state court rulings; federal rules govern when and how veterans benefits can be distributed. This means that you must work under federal guidelines when determining whether your ex-spouse's disability payments will be considered as income when establishing and collecting child support.

Can a Child Receive SSD & Child Support?

Divorce is difficult enough when parents are hale and healthy. When one is disabled, this can potentially affect decisions and rulings ranging from custody to support. If your spouse receives Social Security Disability Insurance and your child is entitled to derivative benefits based on his eligibility, it can affect the amount of child support he will have to pay when your divorce is final. If your child is disabled, she would receive Supplemental Security Income or SSI, not SSDI. Different rules apply to SSI.

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