TRICARE for Life (TFL)

TRICARE for Life (TFL)


Military retirees and their spouses will no longer be eligible for regular TRICARE coverage after the age of 65.  At this point, health care coverage will be provided primarily through TRICARE for Life, or “TFL”, in conjunction with Medicare and, if applicable, the VA.  TRICARE for Life expands on the coverage available for Medicare Part A eligible retirees who have also purchased Medicare Part B.  Any sponsor or spouse enrolled in TRICARE before the age of 65 will automatically be enrolled in TRICARE for Life upon reaching the age of 65.



TRICARE for Life Eligibility


TRICARE for Life is available to:

  • Uniformed Services retirees, including National Guard or Reserve members who receive retired pay
  • Medicare-eligible family members
  • Medicare-eligible widows and widowers
  • Certain former spouses
  • Anyone entitled to Medicare Part A due to chronic renal disease or disability

Dependent parents and in-laws are not eligible for TRICARE for Life, although they may still be eligible for treatment at military treatment facilities on a space-available basis.


TRICARE for Life and Medicare


Sometime after passing the 90-day mark before a service member or spouse’s 65th birthday, DEERS will automatically notify beneficiaries of impending changes to their coverage.  At this time, beneficiaries will be required to enroll in Medicare Part B to be eligible for the transition to TRICARE for Life.  Once enrolled, TRICARE for Life will cover health care costs above that paid by Medicare, starting on the first day of the month of the beneficiary’s 65th birthday.
When receiving medical treatment, TRICARE for Life members only need to show a military ID card in addition to providing their Medicare information; there is no special TRICARE for Life ID card over and above a Medicare card and a military ID.  The provider will bill Medicare, who will in turn bill TRICARE for Life.  There is no copay associated with these visits, and there is no authorization required to see a provider that is not a part of the TRICARE network, as TRICARE will use the providers Medicare account information to process the claim.  (Admission into a hospital for mental health reasons is a notable exception to the no-authorization-required policy.)

TRICARE recognizes all providers who accept Medicare as TRICARE-authorized service providers by default, however, these providers may not accept TRICARE’s maximum allowable payment as payment-i-full for treatment.

TRICARE for Life Overseas

Since overseas providers do not accept Medicare, TRICARE for Life will be the primary payer for all claims submitted.  For retirees living overseas, TRICARE for Life coverage is nearly identical to TRICARE Standard coverage available to retirees under the age of 65.

TRICARE for Life and the VA

TRICARE for Life retirees and eligible beneficiaries may seek treatment at a VA facility for conditions unrelated to service, however the cost-share associated with these visits is a substantial 80 percent of the TRICARE maximum.  For this reason, it is highly recommended that TRICARE for Life beneficiaries seek treatment through Medicare for conditions unrelated to service.  Only high-priority veterans with significant disability ratings due to service-related conditions will be exempt from this cost-share requirement.


  • Joe Lewis
    Posted at 18:57h, 13 September Reply

    I am 65 and I have medicate part ANB And tricare for life If I decide that I want to pick humana Insurance can I still keep the tricare for life I was told that I would lose Tri care for life if I picks another insurance company

  • Esto Jackson
    Posted at 16:50h, 01 September Reply

    I am currently on tricare prime for my wife and myself. I turn 65 next year in October my spouse turns 57. My question is when I sign up for Tricare for Life will my wife continue on Tricare Prime? Also do I continue paying monthly premiums for tricare prime for my spouse? I am trying to get this straight before I turn 65 next year.

  • Barbara DeBree
    Posted at 20:15h, 20 July Reply

    I am writing on behalf of a blind Veteran who I am helping. He has Tricare for Life and has never signed up for the VA because he was told if he did this, he would lose TFL. Is this true? If it is NOT true, is there a phone number for him or a regulation I can print out to show him?? His spouse is having a harder time with the extra care he now needs due to age and disability – he could use some of the extra support services like DAV Vans or other home-health which only can initiate if he’s enrolled in the VA Health system.

  • John Miller
    Posted at 16:05h, 03 April Reply

    I am both Federal Civil Service and Military retired and currently have BCBS & TriCare for my wife and I. I will be turning 65 March 2021 however my wife is a year and a half younger. I will be electing Medicare Part A & B so I will have TriCare for Life however we will need to keep our BCBS active for my wife until she turns 65 and is eligible for TriCare for Life. I plan on suspending BCBS once my wife turns 65. Is this going to be a problem having BCBS, TriCare for Life & Medicare for me and BCBS and TriCare Select for my wife?

  • Eric keller
    Posted at 16:43h, 08 January Reply

    My wife will be turning 65, before me i am retired from the air force. I have tricare prime for both of us. If my wife goes on medicare and TFL, what happens to my coverage, will i still be on prime. How does this work…

  • Robert Forsyth
    Posted at 17:52h, 07 November Reply

    I am retired Army enrolled in Tricare Prime Retiree Insurance. I am 54 years old and will be enrolled in Medicare Part A by the SSA in a few months due to receiving SSDI. My question is if I decline enrollment in Medicare Part B when I am enrolled in Part A, will I be subject to the 12-month 10% penalty for the eleven years before I turn 65 and transfer to TFL. I realize I must be enrolled in Part B when I turn 65.

  • Phillip Kerlee
    Posted at 20:36h, 01 November Reply

    I am a 86 year old retired veteran of the USArmy 23 years service, I have medi-care and TFL. I have gone to the VA hospital in Las Vegas for a while now and everytime I have an appointment they charge me $50.00.
    That doesent seem right to me. Can you explain to me why this is happening

  • Caroline Moore
    Posted at 22:46h, 27 September Reply

    I am 100% P and T and receive free care at the VA. If I have TFL, can I still get the care for free, or will I be charged? Everything I read implies that it can be costly to get VA care with TFL… but what if the VA care is usually free to me?

  • charles r underhile
    Posted at 19:22h, 16 September Reply

    I will be 65 in March 2020. I’m working and the company that controls the insurance has been giving me a wavier to having their insurance due to me having tri care prime. Now they say that due to Federal regulations on how Medicare pays, TriCare for Life and Medicare part B is no longer eligible for a wavier. I have to have their insurance which will cost more in deductibles. They do not quite the Federal regulation, just says there is one. Is this true? Or is it just their way to force me into their insurance program?

  • Linda Pearson
    Posted at 17:48h, 12 September Reply

    To clarify the service member gets tricare for life and the younger spouse stays on regular tricare until reaching 65. Is that correct?

  • Susan
    Posted at 14:29h, 11 September Reply

    I got married in 2019 to a disabled husband and we are well below age 65. Is he eligible for Tricare? I am 100% service connected disabled veteran. Is there a phone number to call to find out? Trying to find out what benefits he is eligible for as my dependent? Any advice would be so helpful. Gratefully, Susan

  • Susan
    Posted at 14:29h, 11 September Reply

    I got married in 2019 to a disabled husband and we are well below age 65. Is he eligible for Tricare? I am 100% service connected disabled veteran. Is there a phone number to call to find out? Trying to find out what benefits he is eligible for as my dependent? Any advice would be so helpful. Gratefully, Susan

  • Steve
    Posted at 02:06h, 27 August Reply

    I am 72 and retired from the Air Force after 32 years 9 months 29 days.

    Additionally, I am 100% Totally and Permanently Disabled by the VA.

    Is there an exception to Medicare Part A and Part B exempting me from paying for medical coverage I do not need or want?

    I am currently paying $134.50. Yet, I receive all my dental and medical from the VA.

    Everyone I’ve contacted comes back to the same party line: everybody has to pay for Medicare.

  • TkStoner
    Posted at 22:02h, 26 August Reply

    What does *certain spouses* mean in the eligibility section?

  • John
    Posted at 18:49h, 18 August Reply

    Since the change in Medicare card #s, it is no longer the Id #. What is the Tricare for Life #? The new Medicare # or the military Id #? My Dad is a Ww II vet, retired.

  • Maureen Christo
    Posted at 15:39h, 17 August Reply

    Hello. My sister is separated from her husband, who was in the National Guard and retired several years ago. While they were together, he paid for her Medicare so she could qualify for Tricare for Life. Now that they are no longer together, she cannot afford Medicare part B and has applied for Medicaid. She was accepted, but she cannot use her Medicaid because the records show that she still has Tricare. She is advised to submit the bill to them first before Medicaid will pay any part of the remainder. She cannot seem to get the record corrected, after numerous and lengthy phone calls. She is legally blind and disabled due to scoliosis and has been skipping her medical appointments since she cannot pay our of pocket. What course of action would you advise? Thank you!

  • Marcus Sherrill
    Posted at 17:16h, 07 August Reply

    I am on TFL being 74 and have no issues with the coverage for me or my spouse. But I do have a disabled son who is a dependent for tax purposes given I provide over 50% of his living expenses even though he does get a small SS check for $782 a month. He has Medicare and sometimes Medicaid but they are always after him and tend to drop him at a moments notice. This has happened 4 times in the last 15 months and is a fight to get it approved again. My question is can he be added as a dependent under the military and covered under my TFL policy and/or be covered under a basic Tricare policy of some sort?

  • Hester Brinster
    Posted at 14:28h, 06 August Reply

    I have reported a number of times that the company Imogen, number 330-989-359, andclaim number 20191-778-219-8733. Is fraudulent I do not have this piece of equipment. Once again $330 has been paid to imagine for rental equipment that I do not have.

  • Roberta Sue Frana
    Posted at 17:05h, 27 July Reply

    I’m retired USAF. I and my spouse are under TriCare and I am turning 65 in less then 50 days. I just received my Medicare card after going to SSA office. How do I select medicare part B? Whom do I pick for my part b plan provider? When I call all the various providers of medicare plans once I mention I’m retired military they tell me they can’t help me.

  • Carroll D Nichols
    Posted at 15:10h, 21 June Reply

    I am a retired veteran, service connected, totally and permanently disabled, both my wife and I are over 65 and have been enrolled in and very happy with TFL. We are also covered by a Medicare supplemental plan provided as part of my wife’s retirement benefits. My non-VA primary care physician will not file TFL since their policy is to file with only two, Medicare and UHC. Recently I have started to receive medical bills for fees not paid. The explanation above states that, “The provider will bill Medicare, who will in turn bill TRICARE for Life. There is no copay associated with these visits, and there is no authorization required to see a provider that is not a part of the TRICARE network, as TRICARE will use the providers Medicare account information to process the claim.”

    As I interpret this, even if there is a third coverage, Medicare will automatically send the claim to TFL and coordinate with the third coverage (UHC) to complete full payment of my claims for both me and my wife. Is this correct?

  • Garry E. Sears
    Posted at 18:38h, 18 June Reply

    My wife is always asked for a Tricare For Life Identification when she goes to doctors office. How can I get her an identity card verifying she has Tricare For Life?

  • June D Lassiter
    Posted at 21:48h, 14 June Reply

    My husband is enrolled in Tricare For Life as well as Medicare A and B
    I have been enrolled in DEERS
    I am 68 years old
    I have Medicare Part A only since I am full time employed and have hospitalization through my employer
    I will retire from full-time employment Jan 1, 2010
    at that time I will be 69 and will add Medicare Part B to my Medicare Coverage
    Will I be eligible to receive TFL Benefits at that time?
    What do i do to enroll into the Benefit program so that I am covered

    • June D Lassiter
      Posted at 21:52h, 14 June Reply

      sorry typo I will be retiring from full time employment on Jan 1, 2020.

  • Thomas J Gall
    Posted at 09:21h, 01 May Reply

    I have Tricare for life, I receive SSD and Retired from the Army age 60.
    What type of I.D. other then her military I.D. is required to show proof she is covered under my Tricare for life insurance plan?
    Does she have to get VA Medical Card with picture ID? Or does she use my VA Medical card and her military ID?

  • kimberly Cain Plunkett
    Posted at 16:49h, 26 April Reply

    Are recipients of DIC get Tricare for life?

  • John Brownell
    Posted at 16:51h, 16 February Reply

    So when I join TFL at 65, and my younger wife remains on TRICARE Prime (TP), does her premium for TP go to the single rate until she becomes 65?

    • JackP
      Posted at 22:32h, 21 February Reply

      CORRECT. However, be advised I am NOT a TRICARE specialist. I recommend contacting your regional TRICARE Prime contractor to absolutely verify. Here is contact info: You’ll need to determine which region you need to contact.

  • Sharee Hileman
    Posted at 01:07h, 08 February Reply

    I am the sponsor, and my husband turns 65 before me. Does he go to TFL before me?

    • JackP
      Posted at 10:36h, 08 February Reply

      Tentatively, YES. “If you’re retired from the military and your spouse reaches age 65 before you do, he or she must transfer from TRICARE to TFL and enroll in (Medicare) Part B at the same time, even though you’re still receiving coverage from TRICARE. (Your current TRICARE premiums will be halved as a result.) Conversely, if you reach 65 before your spouse, he or she will stay on TRICARE until reaching Medicare age even though you’ve transferred to TFL.” (source:

      I would, however, verify this information by contacting TFL directly @ 1-866-773-0404 Monday – Friday 7:00am – 10:00pm Central Standard Time since this source is AARP and not specifically from a TRICARE or TFL contractor.

  • ron owensby
    Posted at 00:29h, 31 January Reply

    I am a 100% service connected vietnam veteran. I have been paying part B medicare. my wife is past 65 also paying medicare part B. Enrfolled in tricare for life since 65. On aug 2017 I became 100% P&T service connected. do i still have to pay part B for my wife to be covered by tricareforlife. any info will be helpful.

    • JackP
      Posted at 18:24h, 02 February Reply

      Thanks for your service! I too am a Vietnam vet, albeit a Vietnam Era vet because I never served in-country. Anyway, If I were you, I’d contact TFL directly. See this link for phone numbers: You’ll need to determine which region you need to contact.

      Since your spouse’s PART B is probably auto withheld from HER Social Security (not actually paid by you), and she is not the one with the service connected issue, I suspect she will need to continue PART B to maintain TFL eligibility. But, again, I’m not an expert, especially concerning your specific situation. Maybe someone else on this board has more/better info but, I recommend calling TFL directly.

      Good Luck!

  • David Baus
    Posted at 20:06h, 11 January Reply

    My wife is 10 years younger than me. My question – Will she still be covered on Tricare or Tricare for life when I turn 65?

    • JackP
      Posted at 19:25h, 17 January Reply

      If your wife is currently enrolled in DEERS/Tricare and receives Tricare benefits, your wife will continue to receive Tricare benefits until she turns 65. Your wife will not get Tricare for Life (TFL) until he/she also reaches 65. Tricare and TFL are managed completely different, as if they are two different programs. Once your spouse reaches 65, and begins Medicare, he/she will then be automatically enrolled in TFL provided he/she is enrolled in DEERS.

      There are a couple things to note: You and your spouse must accept the “automatic” enrollment in the Medicare Part B plan when each of you turn 65 for any of this to apply. If you or your spouse decline the Part B, all is moot.

      Secondly, be sure to notify your health care providers when you transition to TFL. Otherwise, they will probably continue to bill Tricare. Tricare will deny the claims and won’t automatically forward them to TFL. Health care providers will need to refile. The claims must be filed directly with TFL. { Ask me how I know? ;>) }

      My wife is 5 years younger than me and we’ve been through this. I’m turning 70 and my wife just turned 65.

      • Billy Wilson
        Posted at 17:18h, 28 January Reply

        I will turn 65 a year ahead of my wife. Does this mean I will begine TFL and my wife remains on Tricare Prime?

        • JackP
          Posted at 23:59h, 30 January Reply

          Yes Sir!

  • Marji Francis
    Posted at 19:57h, 17 November Reply

    My brother was a Vietnam Active duty vet, who just had a stroke. We just heard about you and were wondering if former vets from Viet Nam and what is the eligibility requirement. Can you let us know.

  • Dave Sage
    Posted at 14:56h, 03 October Reply

    I have been retired since 1995 and never received a VA picture ID card. I am going to start to get paperwork together from other pass operations to put a clam into VA. I have not see VA since I retired in 1996 and I have been using my wife’s health insurance. What do I need to do?

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