What is the 20/20/20 rule?

On Behalf of | Nov 2, 2020 | Divorce, Veterans Benefits |

Service members and veterans in Tennessee enjoy a number of unique benefits due to their military service. As the spouse of such an individual, you understand this better than most. You also know how deeply you and their family members come to depend on those benefits. Oftentimes it is only through that association that you can secure them (due to the sacrifices you often must make to accommodate your spouse’s career). 

This is why so much uncertainty can accompany a divorce from a military member. Without your familial ties to them, affording vital services such as health care on your own may be next to impossible in the immediate aftermath of your divorce. 

Extended TRICARE coverage following a divorce

For this reason, TRICARE (the armed services health insurance provider) allows you to retain coverage after your divorce (you need only concern yourself with your own coverage; your kids remain on their service member parent’s plan until they reach the age of majority). However, you must meet certain criteria. Industry experts refer to these criteria collectively as “the 20/20/20 rule.” This rule requires that: 

  • Your marriage to your service member spouse lasted for at least 20 years 
  • Your service member spouse has at least 20 creditable years towards earning a full military pension 
  • At least 20 years of your marriage overlapped your spouse’s 20 creditable years 

If you meet the criteria, you remain eligible for TRICARE coverage up until you secure your own insurance coverage or you remarry. 

The 20/20/15 rule 

What if you do not meet all of the criteria? Provided that your case meets the first two and 15 years over your marriage overlapped your spouse’s creditable service, then you can remain covered under their TRICARE plan for up to one following the formal completion of your divorce proceedings. 


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