How TRICARE For Life Eligibility, Enrollment Works


Are you wondering what the TRICARE For Life (TFL) program is and whether you’re eligible? TFL is Medicare-wraparound coverage for TRICARE beneficiaries who have Medicare Part A and Part B. This is regardless of your age or where you live. It provides comprehensive health care coverage. With TFL, you also get prescription coverage under the TRICARE Pharmacy Program.

Am I eligible for TFL?

To be eligible for TFL, you must first show that you’re eligible for TRICARE in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). That’s why it’s important to keep your DEERS information current.

“Accurate information in DEERS is key,” said Anne Breslin, TRICARE For Life program manager at the Defense Health Agency. “It’ll help you get effective and timely delivery of your TFL benefits.”

Medicare eligibility is the second piece of being eligible for TFL. Medicare is a federal entitlement health insurance program that provides hospital insurance (Medicare Part A) and medical insurance (Medicare Part B) for people:

Your birth date determines when you become eligible for Medicare based on reaching age 65. It also determines when you should sign up for both Medicare Part A and Part B. Signing up on time will help you avoid a break in TRICARE coverage and get your TFL coverage. If your birthday falls on the first day of the month, you become eligible for Medicare on the first day of the month before you turn age 65. If your birthday falls after the first day of the month, you become eligible for Medicare on the first day of the month you turn age 65. Five months before you turn age 65, you’ll get a notification from the Defense Manpower Data Center reminding you to sign up for Medicare. Your notice will be sent to your email address on your DEERS record, if you’ve opted for electronic communication.

To learn more about eligibility and signing up for Medicare, check out the TRICARE and Medicare Turning Age 65 Brochure or TRICARE and Medicare Under Age 65 Brochure.

How do I enroll in TFL?

There are no enrollment forms for you to submit or paperwork to complete. If you already show as eligible for TRICARE in DEERS, are entitled to Medicare Part A, and have Medicare Part B, you’re covered under TFL. Your TFL coverage starts the first day you have both Medicare Part A and Part B.

There are also no TFL enrollment fees. But you must continue to be eligible for TRICARE and pay Medicare Part B premiums to remain eligible for TFL benefits. Once you have TFL, you’re no longer eligible for TRICARE Prime, unless you’re under the age of 65.

Now that you understand TFL eligibility including Medicare enrollment, you may be wondering if other members of your family can have TFL coverage. Each individual must be eligible for Medicare in order to have TFL coverage. This is regardless of whether you’re the sponsor or family member.

“TRICARE For Life is an individual entitlement,” said Breslin. “That means coverage is only for the Medicare and TRICARE eligible beneficiary, and not for family members who aren’t eligible for Medicare.”

Visit TRICARE For Life or download the TRICARE For Life Handbook to learn more about TFL eligibility, enrollment, and key features. Doing so will help you make informed choices and take command of your health.

At the time of posting, this information is current. For the most recent information, contact your TRICARE contractor or local military hospital or clinic.

Last Updated 9/1/2020