Military retirees in their 60s must do this so they won’t lose their TRICARE benefits

By J.G. Noll

(Photo: U.S. Navy, Petty Officer 2nd Class Chelsea A. Blom)

Turning 65 soon? If you’re a TRICARE Prime beneficiary, you will lose your eligibility the first day of the month you turn 65. (This is a congressionally mandated requirement and is not at the discretion of TRICARE or the military.) The fix? Change your coverage to TRICARE for Life, a nationwide supplement for those entitled to Medicare coverage.

TRICARE for Life beneficiaries must purchase Medicare Part B as well, otherwise they are not eligible for the TRICARE program. Medicare Part B beneficiaries are entitled to outpatient medical insurance to cover physician services. This does have a monthly premium fee attached. (Without TRICARE for Life, beneficiaries will only be entitled to hospital insurance and skilled nursing facility services through Medicare Part A.) Every year without Medicare Part B will incur a 10 percent penalty; spouses married to an active duty service member do not have to purchase Medicare Part B.

Here’s how to make the change:

Find a Medicare Primary Care Manager (PCM)

Call 1-800-633-4227 or visit  Search by location to find a PCM near you.

Receive your Medicare card

Two-to-three months before your 65th birthday, you should receive a Medicare card and information about Medicare Part A and B in the mail. If this information does not come to you, you should contact the Social Security Administration by phone (1-800-772-1213) or visit your local office.

Renew your retiree military ID

You must renew your military ID in person at a DEERS office. Call DEERS (1-800-538-9552) and visit the DMDC site.

Call your civilian PCM

Ask your civilian PCM to request a copy of your records from your previous health facility. You may have to complete a release of information form at that facility before they send any records to your PCM.

Stay up-to-date

Because TRICARE for Life and Medicare are both governmental programs controlled by Congress, they are subject to change. Know what’s going on by visiting regularly.

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