When a service member retires from active duty or from service in the National Guard or Reserve, his or her eligibility for TRICARE coverage and as a TRICARE sponsor for family members changes, as do the associated costs. Retirees under the age of 65 will have more options than those over 65, and there may be some overlap in eligibility between TRICARE coverage and benefits available through the Department of Veterans Affairs, or “the VA”.
A service member is eligible for retiree status after 15 years of service, though the traditional requirement was 20 years of service.
As with all major life and status changes, it is essential to keep DEERS updated to ensure that all beneficiaries are covered through the transition to retirement.
When transitioning to retired status, beneficiaries will need to re-enroll under the sponsor’s retiree status. This change of status will require an enrollment fee for health care plans that do not require such a fee from active-duty service members and their families, such as TRICARE Prime and the Uniformed Services Family Health Plan, or USFHP.
The enrollment fees are adjusted annually in the defense budget for cost-of-living increases, except for fees assessed against surviving dependents of a deceased active-duty sponsor or sponsors who have been medically retired and their dependents.