Retiring from the National Guard or the Reserve? Know Your Options TRICARE > TRICARE Newsroom > Articles


Are you planning to retire from the National Guard or the Reserves? Retirement benefits depend on your age and length of service. For questions regarding retirement benefits such as retirement allowances, be sure to contact your unit’s personnel office. When it comes to eligibility for the TRICARE health plan, your age determines which health plan you can enroll in.

“When you retire from the National Guard or the Reserve, the TRICARE health plan options for you and your family change,” said Brian Smith, program analyst with Defense Health’s TRICARE Health Plan Division. Agency. “These options depend on your age, location, care preferences, and whether or not you have Medicare.”

Because your TRICARE health plan options change as you age, it’s important to understand these options at each stage of your retirement years.

Under 60

TRICARE Retired Reserve (TRR) is available to qualified National Guard and Reserve retirees under age 60 and their eligible family members. Before the age of 60, retired members of the reserve element are “grey zone retirees”. They are not eligible for TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select coverage. If you do not purchase TRR, you are not eligible for any other TRICARE health plans until you reach age 60.

The TRR is a premium-based health plan. You will need to pay a monthly premium to stay enrolled. With TRR, you can view any TRICARE authorized supplier. You’ll save money by using a TRICARE-authorized network provider. You can also seek care and use pharmacy services at any military hospital or clinic, if space is available.

You can buy TRR cover at any time. If you are currently enrolled in TRICARE Reserve Select, your coverage will end on your retirement date. You can avoid a break in coverage by purchasing the TRR within 90 days of your retirement date. RRT cover ends on the day you reach age 60.

60 to 64 years old

When you reach age 60, you and your family become eligible for the same TRICARE health benefits as all other retired service members. Your 60th birthday counts as a TRICARE Qualifying Life Event. This means you must actively enroll in a TRICARE health plan within 90 days to continue receiving health care coverage as a retiree. What if you miss the 90 day window? Then you must pay the TRICARE enrollment fee or retroactive monthly premiums up to 12 months from your 60th birthday for continued coverage. Otherwise, you and your family will only be able to get treatment at a military hospital or clinic if places are available.

As indicated in the National Guard or Reserve Retirement Brochure, you and your eligible family members can enroll in one of these health plans: you will have to pay enrollment fees or retiree premiums for these health plans. You can view costs using the Compare Costs tool or by downloading the TRICARE Costs and Fees Fact Sheet.

65 and over

Once you reach age 65, you are no longer eligible for TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select. TRICARE For Life (TFL) is comprehensive Medicare coverage for TRICARE-eligible beneficiaries who are eligible for Medicare Part A and have Medicare Part B. Coverage is automatic once you: You should receive information from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services six months before reaching age 65. This will tell you when and how to purchase Medicare Part B. To avoid any gaps in TFL coverage, purchase Medicare Part B as soon as possible. If you wait until the month you reach age 65, your TFL coverage will not begin until the following month. This will cause a gap in your coverage. Family members who are not eligible for TFL will continue to benefit from their current health plan.

Pharmaceutical coverage

If you have a TRICARE health plan, you have pharmacy coverage through the TRICARE pharmacy program. If you enroll in the US Family Health Plan, you must use their pharmacy program.

Dental options and vision

Once you retire, you and your family members are no longer eligible for TRICARE dental benefits. However, retirees and eligible family members may be eligible to purchase dental and vision coverage through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP). Your specific eligibility for FEDVIP dental and vision plans depends on your age.

Check National Guard or Reserve Retirement Brochure for more details on your health care options. You can also find the steps you need to take to ensure your health care coverage is in place when you retire from military service. Meanwhile, active duty members who have questions about your health care options can find answers in the Active Duty Retirement Brochure.

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