Military Health Care Benefits

All eligible spouses and children remain eligible for military health care coverage. Surviving spouses remain eligible for TRICARE benefits at active-duty dependent rates for three years from the date of the service member’s death. 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 rises to those of retirees. Surviving spouses will be notified about six months before the end of transitional survivor status so that they can be aware of the upcoming change in status and plan accordingly.

Under recent changes included in Public Law 109-163, 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. This enhanced benefit is retroactive for survivors of service members whose deaths occurred since Oct. 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 include no Prime enrollment fee or co-payments.

Families also may 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 be due 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 the overseas claims processor.

For more details and contact information about health care benefits for survivors, visit the TRICARE Survivor Web page at, and search the subheadings on the right side for specific subjects.

Military Dental Care Benefits

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 date of the service member’s death. After three years, family members will be notified of their disenrollment and their eligibility for the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP). 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 the age of 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, also are eligible for coverage. For more information please visit: or

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.