Ask the Doc


Q. How long is my child eligible for TRICARE?

A. Your child’s eligibility ends at age 21, but may continue to age 23 if he or she is enrolled at an approved institution of higher learning, unmarried, and dependent on the sponsor for more than half of his or her financial support.  
To learn more, visit the Eligibility page.

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.
•At age 21 or 23, he or she may qualify to purchase TRICARE Young Adult. 
Register in DEERS
To register your child in DEERS, you need a certificate of birth or adoption and the signed DD Form 1172-2. >>Learn More about Required Documents
What kind of certificate is needed?
If the child is …
Then you need: 
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 Born Overseas A consular report of birth (FS-240) 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 

Is a Social Security number (SSN) required?
No. You don’t need your child’s SSN to register them in DEERS. But, remember to update DEERS with the SSN as soon as you have it.
To get an SSN for your child, you can:
•Apply online or
•Call 1-800-772-1213  

Registered in DEERS doesn’t mean “enrolled” in TRICARE
Registering your child in DEERS doesn’t automatically enroll them in any TRICARE health plan option. Visit the “Getting TRICARE For Your Child” page to learn more.

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 providing 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  

Surviving Children
Children whose sponsor died while serving on active duty remain eligible for TRICARE until they lose eligibility for TRICARE due to age, marriage or any other reason.

Other Scenarios
Children in the following scenarios may be eligible for TRICARE under certain conditions:
•If born out of wedlock
•When placed in the custody of a sponsor, either by a court or recognized adoption agency, in anticipation of legal adoption

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