One of the uncertainties of divorce for spouses of service members is the potential loss of military health coverage under TRICARE. While children of service members remain eligible for TRICARE until they are age 21 (or age 23 if in college), spouses lose eligibility the day of the divorce.
There are circumstances, however, when spouses can continue their TRICARE coverage. These are known as the 20-20-20 rule and the 20-20-15 rule.
What is the 20-20-20 rule?
You are covered by the 20-20-20 rule if:
- You were married to the service member for at least 20 years
- The service member has at least 20 years of credited military service.
- At least 20 years of your marriage was during your spouse's military service
Under the 20-20-20 rule, you can obtain TRICARE coverage under your own Social Security number as your own sponsor. This means you will keep coverage even if you remarry or become eligible for other health coverage.
What is the 20-20-15 rule?
Under the 20-20-15 rule, you have been married for 20 years and your spouse has 20 years of military service. However, only 15 years of your marriage was during your spouse's military service.
Under the 20-20-15 rule, you can continue to be covered under your spouse's TRICARE coverage under your spouse's Social Security number. If you remarry or become eligible for other health coverage, however, you would lose eligibility.
Jody A. Miller, Attorney at Law, handles military divorce for service members and their spouses in the Atlanta area.