Having a new baby is a busy and exciting time. And tiring. Don’t forget tiring. Between the diapers and feedings, make sure you find time to enroll your baby in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) in a timely manner. DEERS is the first step in receiving military benefits for your child, including Tricare health care coverage.
What Happens Automatically
Newborn children of military sponsors are automatically enrolled in Tricare Prime for the first 60 days after birth as long as at least one other family member is enrolled in Tricare Prime or Tricare Prime Remote. If you do not enroll your new baby in DEERS within the first 60 days after birth, the baby’s coverage changes to Tricare Standard. At 365 days (1 year) after birth, the child loses all Tricare coverage if not enrolled in DEERS.
What You Need To Do
In order to ensure that your child is properly identified in military records, and eligible for Tricare coverage, you must provide a copy of the child’s birth certificate and Social Security number to the DEERS office.
If you do not have a Social Security number when you initially enroll your child in DEERS, you will have 90 days to provide the Social Security number. If you do not provide the Social Security number, DEERS will suspend their enrollment and Tricare coverage.
DEERS can be wacky, so it makes sense to go back and verify your DEERS records. At one point, my husband and I had several extra children in DEERS (they were duplicates of existing kids.) That sort of mistake is funny; mistakes where kids are missing from DEERS are complicated and expensive.
What Else Does DEERS Do?
Medical coverage is the biggest reason why you want to have accurate information in DEERS, but it’s not the only reason. DEERS lists eligibility for commissary and exchange privileges, military identification cards, life insurance benefits and educational benefits. It can also impact Permanent Change of Station issues, such as the ability to request military-sponsored visas for overseas tours.
Enrolling your new baby in DEERS quickly and accurately will save a lot of drama and hassle in the future. Find the time to ensure that it happens.