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TRICARE and Marriage: What You Need To Know

Image of TRICARE and Marriage: What You Need To Know. Getting married is a TRICARE Qualifying Life Event. This means newlyweds have 90 days to make eligible changes to their TRICARE plan, including enrollment, switching plans, or adding new family members.

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Getting married is an exciting time in your life. If you’re a military spouse, you probably have questions about your TRICARE health coverage. There are certain things you need to do to enroll in a TRICARE health plan.

“After you get married, it’s important to add your spouse to the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, also known as DEERS, as soon as possible.” said Shane Pham, program analyst with TRICARE Health Plan’s Policy and Programs Branch. “Your spouse has a limited time period—90 days—to enroll in a TRICARE health plan.”

Marriage as a Qualifying Life Event

Getting married is a TRICARE Qualifying Life Event (QLE). QLEs allow you and eligible family members to make enrollment changes outside the annual TRICARE Open Season period. As explained in the TRICARE Qualifying Life Events Fact Sheet, newlyweds have 90 days to make any eligible changes. These changes may include:

These rules apply to TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Select. If you use TRICARE For Life, marriage is a QLE for your spouse if they’re under age 65. And keep in mind that premium-based plans (TRICARE Reserve Select, TRICARE Retired Reserve, and TRICARE Young Adult) offer continuous open enrollment throughout the year.

Step 1: Register in DEERS

Your sponsor must first register you in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). To do this, visit a RAPIDS ID card office. You’ll need to bring documentation such as your marriage certificate, birth certificate, Social Security card, and photo ID. You should add your spouse to DEERS within 90 days of getting married.

If your new spouse has children, they may also become TRICARE-eligible when you marry. Biological children, adopted children, and stepchildren are eligible up to age 21, or age 23 if they’re full-time students. If you want to enroll stepchildren in TRICARE, you must register them in DEERS within 90 days of your marriage. To learn more, go to Eligibility for Children.

Step 2: Enroll in a plan

Once they’re registered in DEERS, your new spouse and any stepchildren can enroll in a TRICARE health plan. New active duty family members are automatically enrolled in TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select, depending on their location. If eligible for other plans, these family members have 90 days from the date of your marriage to change their plan.

Family members of retirees aren’t automatically enrolled in TRICARE. These family members have 90 days from the date of your marriage to enroll in a plan.

If you miss this deadline, you’ll have to wait until the next TRICARE Open Season to enroll in a plan, unless you have another QLE. Be sure to take action soon after you’re married so you get the coverage your family needs.

Your TRICARE health plan options depend on your beneficiary status and where you live. Check out the TRICARE Plan Finder tool to help you find which TRICARE plans you’re eligible for. You can also look at the TRICARE Compare Plans tool to compare TRICARE plans to find which works best for you and your family. Remember that different family members may be eligible for and enroll in different plans.

Taking the next steps with TRICARE

Understanding your benefits and taking the right steps to register and enroll will ensure you have access to the care you need. Keep in mind, you only have 90 days to enroll in TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Select plans.

Have questions? Reach out to your TRICARE regional contractor for help or check out TRICARE 101 or New Spouses to learn more.

Congratulations! Welcome to TRICARE.

Would you like the latest TRICARE news sent to you by email? Visit TRICARE Subscriptions, and create your personalized profile to get benefit updates, news, and more.

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Last Updated: May 06, 2024
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