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Tricare Help: TRS coverage for Guard members begins after basic

Oct. 16, 2013 - 05:23PM   |  
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Q. My fiance recently joined the National Guard, and we are planning to tie the knot two months before he leaves for basic. We both have coverage under our respective parents, which will end the day we get married. Can we enroll in Tricare Reserve Select before he leaves, or do we have to wait until he leaves for training?

A. He can’t enroll in Tricare Reserve Select until he completes his basic training and any follow-on advanced individual training in whatever military skill he is pursuing. During those two phases, he will be on full-time active duty, so his health care will be covered for free. If you are married when he leaves for basic, you will also be fully covered under his sponsorship as soon as he goes on active duty.

Once he finishes basic training and AIT and transitions to drilling status in the Guard, that “ordinary” Tricare coverage will end and he can purchase Tricare Reserve Select for himself and for you. Guardsmen can’t purchase TRS unless they are in drilling status.

Q. I have Tricare Reserve Select for my family and Tricare Young Adult for my 22-year-old daughter. I must retire in June, having reached maximum years of service as an O-5, but three months from my 60th birthday. Can I extend Tricare Reserve Select for the three-month gap instead of having to go into Tricare Retired Reserve and then Tricare Standard?

A. Unfortunately, the regulations state TRS is available only to drilling reservists. If you’re not in drilling status, you’re not eligible for TRS.

Q. I am an Army reservist who has Tricare Reserve Select. I am in a relationship with an active-duty service member who has Prime. We both plan to retire in the next few years. Upon my partner’s retirement, she will be eligible for Tricare for Life. If we marry either before or after our retirements, what are our options for Tricare? Will I be covered by Tricare for Life with her or will I have to wait until I turn 65? I am five years younger than she is.

A. If you and your partner marry before either of you retire, your best course is to have her be your family’s primary sponsor. She can then enroll you in Prime under her active-duty sponsorship as her family member, and you can drop Tricare Reserve Select. That will save you money because active-duty members and their family members do not have to pay the annual Prime enrollment fee, and you will no longer be paying TRS premiums.

It’s hard to imagine that your partner will become eligible for Tricare for Life immediately upon her retirement from active duty; active-duty members rarely if ever serve to age 65. Assuming it will be a few years before she reaches that point and becomes eligible for Medicare, your partner would remain eligible for Tricare Prime as an active-duty retiree during that interlude (note that active-duty retirees must pay the annual Prime enrollment fee).

When she does reach 65 and transition into Tricare for Life (Medicare as primary coverage plus Tricare Standard as second payer), you may remain in Prime or use Tricare Standard as her family member, regardless of whether you are retired at that time. Once you retire and reach age 60, you will qualify for full Tricare coverage (again, Prime or Standard) in your own right. Once you reach 65 and become eligible for Medicare yourself, you will also transition into Tricare for Life.

Write to Tricare Help, Times News Service, 6883 Commercial Drive, Springfield, VA 22159; or tricarehelp@militarytimes.com.

Answers by RallyPoint

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