By J.G. Noll

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

J.G. Noll is the Editor of Military One Click and a veteran’s spouse. She can be reached at