TRICARE is a generous and valuable health insurance plan provided to the military. The cost of private insurance for an older individual can easily reach over $10,000 per year. A former spouse may be eligible for TRICARE if he or she fits into one of the scenarios described below. In both scenarios, the military spouse must have at least 20 years of creditable service towards determining retirement pay and the spouses must have been married for at least 20 years. During settlement negotiations, it is smart to negotiate that the marriage continue until the 20 year mark if that milestone is relatively near.

The "20-20-20" Rule

You are eligible for TRICARE as long as you meet the following criteria:


  • 20 - Your spouse service member has at least 20 years of creditable service towards determining retirement pay.

  • 20 - You were married to the same spouse service member for at least 20 years

  • 20 - All 20 years of marriage overlap the 20 years of creditable (Active or Reserve) service which counted towards your sponsor's retirement.

The "20-20-15" Rule

You are eligible for TRICARE for one year as long as you meet the following criteria:


  • 20 - Your spouse service member has at least 20 years of creditable service towards determining retirement pay.

  • 20 - You were married to the same spouse service member for at least 20 years

  • 15 - 15 of those years overlap the 20 years of creditable (Active or Reserve) service which counted towards your spouse service member's retirement.

You'll need the following documents to establish your eligibility as a former spouse:


  • Marriage Certificate

  • Divorce Decree

  • DD Form 214 or Statement of Service from the applicable Service Personnel Component.

A former spouse who has employer-sponsored medical insurance is not eligible for military medical care or TRICARE. If the employer plan is optional, the former spouse may decline that insurance and remain eligible under TRICARE.

For more information, visit the TRICARE page for Former Spouses

The Continued Health Care Benefit Program.

The Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP) extends at least some medical benefits to former military spouses, regardless of the length of the marriage. In other words, if you don’t meet the 20/20/20 or 20/20/15 rules, you may still qualify for health care through CHCBP.

Enrollment in CHCBP protects spouses from a lapse in coverage when they transition from military health care plans, such as TRICARE, to new civilian health plans. Spouses enrolled in CHCBP will receive temporary health care coverage following the loss of military benefits. CHCBP benefits are similar to TRICARE benefits. The main differences are that former spouses have to pay in order to participate, and they won’t have access to military treatment facilities or pharmacies. CHCBP may also provide former spouses coverage for preexisting conditions that aren’t covered by a new employer's benefit plan.