New Spouses

When you marry an active duty or retired service member, you become entitled to military benefits, including TRICARE.

Your sponsor must register you in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).

Once registered in DEERS, you’ll get your own uniformed services identification card and you can start using TRICARE.

Your Health Plan Options

You may be eligible for the following health plans:

Your Benefits

TRICARE covers most inpatient and outpatient care that is medically necessary. >>See what’s covered

TRICARE provides a robust pharmacy benefit.

You can enroll in one of TRICARE’s dental plans.

  • TRICARE Dental Program (if your sponsor is on active duty or in the Guard/Reserves)

  • TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (if your sponsor is retired from active duty or Guard/Reserves)

Out-of-Pocket Costs

Your health care costs are based on your sponsor’s status (active duty or retired) and which health plan option you are using.

Coverage for Children

Biological, adopted and step-children are covered by TRICARE.

  • Eligibility for children. Unmarried biological and adopted children are eligible for TRICARE until age 21 (or 23 if in college, see “College Students” below). Eligibility may extend beyond these age limits if he or she is severely disabled.

Register in DEERS

To register your child (newborn or adopted) in DEERS, you need the following documents:

A certificate of birth or adoption: If born in the United States—an original or certified-copy of the birth certificate or certificate of live birth signed by the attending physician or other hospital representative. If born overseas—a consular report of birth (FS-240). If adopted—a record of adoption or a letter of placement of the child into the home by a recognized placement/adoption agency or the court before the final adoption.

An Application for Identification Card/DEERS Enrollment (DD Form 1172-2) The form needs to be signed by the sponsor and verifying official at an ID card office. If the sponsor can’t sign the form in person at an ID card office, the spouse or legal guardian needs either a notarized copy of the form or a power of attorney.

Apply for a Social Security Number. You don’t need a Social Security number (SSN) when you first register your child in DEERS, but you need to update DEERS with the SSN when you have it. To apply for your child’s SSN:

  • Apply online
  • Call 1-800-772-1213

Child Scenarios


  • Step-children are eligible for TRICARE as long as the parent of the child and sponsor are married.
  • If the marriage ends in divorce, the step-children lose eligibility on the date the divorce decree is final.
  • If the sponsor adopts his or her step-children, they remain covered as adopted children even if the marriage ends in divorce.

College students Eligibility can be extended up to age 23 if:

  • Your child is enrolled in a full course of study at an approved institution of higher learning.
  • You’re still providng more than half of their financial support You’ll need a letter from the school’s registrar’s office stating that your child is enrolled full-time in an accredited college in pursuit of an Associate’s Degree or higher. Eligibility ends on your child’s 23rd birthday or when he or she is out of school, whichever comes first.

Learn about TRICARE options for college students.. At age 23 (or after ending college) he or she may qualify to purchase TRICARE Young Adult.

Related Downloads

Tricare Choices for College Students Fact Sheet. Tricare Young Adult Fact Sheet.

This blog post is part of my FREE ebook that is available for download at

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