Leaving the "Gray Area" Soon?
Those who have completed a career serving in the Guard/Reserve face two transitions: First, their retirement from the military at the completion of a "good" twenty years (or longer) and then when they reach their "full" retirement age (usually 60). Missing some important deadlines may mean extra costs and lost opportunities.
What is the "Gray Area"?
This is the time between a Guardsman/Reservist completing their "good" years required to receive a pension and the date when they may actually collect their pension and use TRICARE healthcare. During this period, they have exchange, commissary, MWR privileges, and more.
When you complete your "good" twenty years (or longer) for retirement, part of your out-processing MUST be obtaining a NEW military ID card reflecting your new status. In some cases, individuals, for various reasons, have missed their out-processing or transition assistance program appointments and not obtained this card. They may not worry about it because they incorrectly believe they have no benefits until age 60. This is not only incorrect, but if DEERS doesn't have their information in their system, it may run afoul when it comes time to apply for your retirement. This is the only place where they have your address! You may not be eligible to purchase TRICARE Retired Reserve health plan (premium based) or TRICARE Young Adult healthcare if you are not enrolled in DEERS.
The "retired reserve" cared for Gray Area retirees will be red/dark pink in color.
If you are having trouble at your ID card issuing location explaining what kind of card you need, be sure to mention that it will be a "red card." AMRA has had reports that some ID card office personnel are not familiar with this card and only know it by its color. At that time, also ensure that your Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) records are up to date, reflecting your correct contact information and who all your DEERS-eligible family members are. They may also be eligible for military ID cards; call ahead to find out.
You and any eligible family members/dependents will need to obtain new military ID cards when you reach your "full" retirement age (age 60 for most Guard/Reserve retirees). That date comes faster than you'd like to think! Once again, ensure that your record(s) in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) are updated. You may do this in person at the ID card office, or online at www.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect.
At age 60, you are eligible for TRICARE Health Care. If you were covered by civilian health insurance programs provided by your civilian employer while you were in the Gray Area but cancelled them when you became eligible for retirement in anticipation of using TRICARE, ensure that TRICARE is now listed as your primary health care provider in DEERS. Failure to do so may lead to medical billing confusion. If your spouse reaches age 65 before you do, their records will need to be updated as well. TRICARE will NOT pay for any care you or family members receive if you are not correctly enrolled in DEERS.
Finally, at age 65 all military retirees, whether from the Active Duty, Guard or Reserve, are eligible to use Medicare as their primary healthcare and TRICARE for Life (TFL) as their secondary. A new military ID card with "Indefinite" in the expiration box will be required to ensure that DEERS is updated.
Questions? Visit http://www.tricare.mil/DEERS or call 1-800-538-9552.
The American Military Retirees Association is for retirees from Active Duty, Guard and Reserve (including "Gray Area" retirees), the medically retired, those carrying a 100% total and permanent disability rating from the VA, and their surviving spouses.