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If you are a surviving spouse of a service member, there are three steps you can take to make sure your TRICARE survivor benefits reimburse you for any out-of-pocket costs in a timely, hassle-free manner. Additionally, the options and cost vary depending on your sponsor’s military status at the time of death and whether the surviving family member is a spouse or child.
One potential issue surviving spouses will want to avoid is receiving reimbursement checks in their deceased loved one’s name, making them difficult to cash and creating legal difficulties. But there are things you can do ahead of time to ensure that you are able to cash your check without issue.
1. Transfer status designation
Surviving spouses, make sure that your deceased service member’s status designation is properly updated with your regional TRICARE contractor.
If you update your TRICARE survivor benefits records properly, you can avoid many issues, including misdirected and mislabeled checks.
2. Update death certificate information in DEERS
Social Security provides death information to the Defense Manpower Data Center, the administrator of Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, but it may take some time for the center to collect the information. Get ahead of potential issues and do one of the following:
- Notify DMDC of the death directly by mailing or faxing a copy of the death certificate
- Take a copy of the death certificate to your local ID card office
3. Notify your medical provider
As a surviving spouse, regularly update your and any surviving dependents’ information with all medical providers so that you can prevent any TRICARE survivor benefits reimbursement issues from the source of the health care transaction. If you are sent a check that is not made out to you, make sure the account has been updated and that the sponsor’s status shows as deceased.
As long as the managed care support contractor has a record of the decedent’s date of death, they should not need any other documentation, and you should receive a beneficiary letter.