A Guide to Military Health Benefits After Divorce

As the former spouse of a military member, you once enjoyed access to extensive health care benefits. Sadly, eligibility often ends upon divorce, especially for younger individuals or those married for just a few years. Keep the following considerations in mind as you explore your options for post-divorce health care coverage:

TRICARE and the 20/20/20 Rule

Following divorce, dependent children remain eligible for TRICARE benefits. For divorced spouses, however, eligibility hinges on the length of the marriage and several other factors. The easiest way to determine whether you qualify is to remember the 20/20/20 rule, which includes the following criteria:

  • The marriage must last at least 20 years
  • The military member must serve for at least 20 years
  • The overlap between military service and marriage must also reach 20 years

Even after meeting these criteria, the military member’s ex-spouse will not qualify after remarrying or if he or she enrolls in an employer-sponsored health care plan. TRICARE coverage ends upon achieving Medicare eligibility or reaching the age of 62. Until then, eligible ex-spouses enjoy access to military treatment centers and pharmacies.

The 20/20/15 Rule: Options For Limited Coverage

Spouses who reach some but not all of the criteria of the aforementioned 20/20/20 rule may qualify for limited coverage under the 20/20/15 rule. This standard holds many similarities to the 20/20/20 option, but only requires a 15-year overlap between marriage and military service.

Unfortunately, coverage under the 20/20/15 rule only lasts for one year. After that, ex-spouses are treated the same as all others who fail to qualify for 20/20/20 coverage. During their year of eligibility, 20/20/15 TRICARE beneficiaries give up previous commissary benefits and PX access.

TRICARE Health Plans

Upon achieving eligibility for TRICARE, you can choose from a variety of available plans. Options will depend somewhat on where you live. Popular choices include:

  • TRICARE Standard and Extra
  • TRICARE Prime
  • TRICARE For Life
  • US Family Health Plan

Many spouses remain with the same plan under which they enrolled while married. Children retain coverage regardless of the divorced spouse’s eligibility.

Confused about your eligibility for health care benefits as the former spouse of a military member? The Washington, D.C. family law attorneys at DiPietro Family Law Group are here to help. Contact us today for insight into your military divorce.

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