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Stay TRICARE eligible: Keep DEERS up-to-date

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- Beneficiaries who have recently experienced a life changing event, such as the birth or adoption of a child, or recent divorce or marriage should immediately record these changes in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, or DEERS. If they wait, their TRICARE benefit coverage could be affected.

"Life comes at you fast and beneficiaries should not wait to update DEERS when they experience any life event that changes their TRICARE status," said John Arendale, chief of the Purchased Care Systems Integration Branch at the TRICARE Management Activity. "What beneficiaries don't want to experience is a lapse in TRICARE coverage because their DEERS eligibility information is incorrect."

Incorrect information can potentially impact a beneficiary's ability to get a prescription filled, get a medical claim paid or make an appointment to see a doctor. Beneficiaries can easily avoid these types of problems by making sure their DEERS record is accurate.

DEERS is the worldwide, computerized database designed to maintain timely and accurate information on service members and dependents who are eligible for military benefits and entitlements, including TRICARE. It also is used to detect and prevent fraud and abuse. All sponsors are automatically registered in DEERS. The sponsor must register all eligible family members. Once the registration process is complete, the family members can update their personal information, such as addresses and phone numbers.

Events that change a beneficiary's TRICARE status include: relocation, retirement, change of address, change in marital status, birth, death, adoption or Medicare entitlement.

A beneficiary can register eligible new family members in DEERS at the nearest military personnel office or uniformed services identification card issuing office. To find an office near them, they can go to the Rapids Site Locator website, www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl/owa/home. Beneficiaries can call to update contact information only at 1-800-538-9552.

To register a child in DEERS, bring the following forms:

· An original or certified-copy of the birth certificate or certificate of live birth (signed by the attending physician or other responsible person from a U.S. hospital or military treatment facility) or consular report of birth (FS-240) for children overseas;

· A record of adoption or a letter of placement of the child into the home by a recognized placement/adoption agency or the court before the final adoption; and

· A DD form 1172 signed by the sponsor and verifying official from a uniformed services ID card-issuing facility.

Get more information on DEERS eligibility at www.tricare.osd.mil/deers/default.cfm.

"Updating information in DEERS is the key to maintaining eligibility for TRICARE and other military benefits," Mr. Arendale said.