Frequently Asked Questions regarding TRICARE and Death of a Family Member (Consumer Pages)
Life Events that Impact Your Benefits: Death of a Family Member
The information below will help answer some of the questions you may have about who to contact and what actions must be taken to maintain your military benefits.
Actions – Understand what actions you must take after the passing of your family member
How do I update DEERS to show the death of my spouse or sponsor?
You have three options:
- Take a copy of the death certificate to the nearest ID Facility
- Mail a copy (please do not mail originals) of the death certificate along with the sponsor’s social security number to:
- DMDC Support Office
- 400 Gigling Road,
- Seaside, CA 93955, or
- Fax it to the DMDC Support Office at (831) 655-8317.
What if the date of death is incorrect in DEERS?
Please see: How do I update DEERS to show the death of my spouse or sponsor?
If my sponsor dies, who else needs to be notified?
If the sponsor was retired, you must also send a copy of the death certificate to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) if the sponsor was USA, USAF, USN or USMC. Be sure to include the sponsor's Social Security Number on all documentation.
To report the death of a Coast Guard or NOAA retiree, annuitant, or Lighthouse Keepers, please call the US Coast Guard Personnel Service Center Retiree and Annuitant Services Branch at (800) 772-8724. You may also fax them at (785) 339-3770.
To report the death of a retired PHS Officer, please call the Compensation Branch at (301) 594-2963.
Continued Benefits – Family members may still be eligible for military benefits if the sponsor was Active Duty for a period of 30 days or more, or he/she was a reservist and died after September 30, 1985
Can a spouse keep his/her DoD benefits if the sponsor dies?
Yes, as long as the spouse does not remarry, he/she would qualify for enrollment in any of the TRICARE Programs, including the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program.
Can a child keep his/her DoD benefits if the sponsor dies?
Yes, dependent children are eligible for health benefits and base privileges until age 21 unless they marry or become Active Duty themselves. A dependent child may be eligible for benefits after age 21 if he/she meets certain criteria as a full-time student or as an incapacitated (incapable of self-support) child. Benefits and privileges for full-time students end when he/she graduates or turns 23, whichever is first.
My sponsor died when he/she was in the Transitional Assistance Management Program (also known as TA or TAMP). Is my family eligible for benefits?
Yes, you and your family will continue benefits through the 180 days of authorized health benefits and two years of commissary, theater, and exchange privileges. For more information on TAMP, visit the TRICARE Web site.
What burial benefits are sponsors entitled to?
To confirm your eligibility for burial benefits, please visit the Department of Veterans Affairs web site or call a Veterans Benefits Counselor at (800) 827-1000.
Will a spouse continue to receive monthly retirement checks if a sponsor dies?
The sponsor’s military retired pay stops as of the date of death. A surviving spouse will receive monthly survivor payments from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) if the sponsor elected an annuity for the spouse under the Survivor Benefit Program. For more information, please contact the DFAS casualty office at (800) 321-1080.
Remarriage – Health benefits end if a widow/widower of a sponsor remarries
If a spouse remarries after the sponsor’s death, can he/she keep DoD benefits?
No. A widow or widower who remarries does not qualify for enrollment in any of the TRICARE Programs, including the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program. Note: If you are a Survivor Benefit Plan annuitant and you remarry, you may continue to be entitled to your annuitant pay, depending upon your age at the time of the remarriage. However, your health benefits and base privileges will terminate upon remarriage. Additional information regarding annuitant pay may be found on the DFAS Web site.
What actions do I need to take if I remarry after my sponsor dies?
You will need to provide a copy of your marriage certificate at the nearest military ID card issuing facility and request that your DEERS record be updated. You will also need to surrender your military ID card.
I remarried after my sponsor died. However, I am no longer married (due to death or divorce). Can my health benefits and base privileges be reinstated?
As an unmarried widow, you will once again be entitled to base privileges. However, your health benefits through the Department of Defense will not be reinstated. You may be entitled to medical benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). You may also be entitled to CHAMPVA through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
You need to provide a copy of your marriage certificate and the divorce decree or death certificate (whichever applies) for your most recent marriage at the nearest military ID card issuing facility to update DEERS and receive a new ID card.