Health + Dental

All otherwise eligible spouses and children remain eligible for military health care coverage. Surviving spouses remain eligible for three years from the date of death for TRICARE benefits at active duty dependent rates. This is called transitional survivor status. After three years in transitional survivor status, the surviving spouse is considered in survivor status and the cost of TRICARE Prime and TRICARE co-pays and cost shares rise to those of retirees. Surviving spouses will be notified approximately 6 months before the end of transitional survivor status so they can be aware of the upcoming change in status and plan accordingly. Surviving children remain eligible for transitional survivor status and active duty dependent coverage under TRICARE until they reach age 21, or 23 if enrolled in college. Surviving children are also eligible for TRICARE Young Adult. This enhanced benefit is retroactive for deaths occurring since October 7, 2001. Children who previously were converted to survivor status have been automatically restored to transitional survivor status, but their TRICARE health plan (Prime or Standard) was not changed. Children who have been restored to transitional survivor status are eligible for all TRICARE programs at active duty family member payment rates, which includes Prime enrollment without fee or co-payments.

Families may also be eligible to register a disabled family member for the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO). Past claims and enrollment fees may be reprocessed, and families may receive a refund. Family members should contact their TRICARE regional contractor to discuss applicable TRICARE options, claims history, and possible reimbursements. Families who were living overseas should contact their overseas claims processor.

For more details and contact information about health care benefits for survivors, go to the TRICARE Survivor web page and search the subheadings for specific subjects.

Surviving spouses and children enrolled in the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) at the time of the service member's death will have premium-free coverage for three years from the death. If not previously enrolled, surviving spouses are eligible to enroll for three years following the sponsor’s death. After three years, family members will be notified of their disenrollment and their eligibility for the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP). Surviving children may enroll and/or stay enrolled until they lose eligibility for TRICARE (i.e. marriage, age, etc). Surviving families who are assigned overseas at the time of death and who had disenrolled from the TDP because care was available in a military dental facility may reenroll and receive the same benefit. Surviving children under age 4, who are not enrolled in the TDP at the time of the service member's death because they had not reached the minimum age for enrollment, are also eligible for coverage. In 2005, survivor benefits under the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) were expanded to include active duty spouses of a member who dies while serving on active duty for a period of more than 30 days. For more information, consult the TRICARE Fact Sheet "Survivors – Dental Benefits are Covered."

Note: The spouse's eligibility for military health care and dental care terminates upon remarriage and may not be reinstated unless the marriage is annulled. 

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