Medical Benefits for US Veterans Overseas
Medical Benefits for US Veterans Overseas


Retired and non-retired veterans overseas, with a VA awarded disability of 0% to 100%, are covered under the VA Foreign Medical Program (FMP).  The veteran must register with VA-FMP.

If you do not have a VA ID, visit a VA hospital or clinic whenever you travel back to the US with a copy of your DD214 to request a VA-ID .  NOTE: The VA ID is not required for medical services overseas. Overseas, to receive medical services for VA awarded service-connected disabilities, all you need is your VA-FMP benefit letter listing your awarded disabilities.

NOTE: If you DO NOT have service-connected VA awarded disabilities, you WILL NOT have VA-FMP medical coverage overseas. For this reason, you should visit your nearest Veterans Service Officer (VSO) for guidance and assistance if you believe you have service-connected disabilities to claim.

Spouses, dependent children, widows and widowers of non-retired veterans, that have been declared to be 100% total and permanently (T&P) disabled by VA, are also eligible for medical services and medications under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA).

The 100% T&P non-retired veteran and his dependents are also authorized DOD ID Cards for entry into military installations. They will have access to commissaries, PX/BX and MWR. 

Dependents of retired and non-retired 100% T&P veterans are entitled to Chapter 35, Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA), to be used towards a degree in VA certified colleges and universities.

TRICARE Select, TRICARE for Life and CHAMPVA beneficiaries are responsible for the 25% co-pay for medical services and medications.


IMPORTANT:  TRICARE Prime does not provide coverage overseas if you are a retiree. Ensure you contact TRICARE before relocating to Panama and change your TRICARE Prime to TRICARE Select. This also applies for any family members relocating with you.


– CRITICAL!!!: Effective January 2021, all TRICARE Select beneficiaries (that are NOT Tricare for Life), must have set up monthly premium allotment of $25 for family or $12.50 for single. You have until 31 December 2020 to set up your allotment with Tricare. If you do not set up your monthly allotment with Tricare, in January 2021 you and/or your family will not have Tricare medical coverage. CALL TRICARE at 800-444-5445 to set up your allotment. 


For retired veterans and their spouses, ensure you sign up for MEDICARE Part-B prior to your 65th birthday. You will drop out of TRICARE and not be medically insured if you do not have MEDICARE Part-B at age 65.  Manage this most important life event very carefully and don't miss it.  Permanent penalties apply if you register in MEDICARE Part-B after age 65. 

Medicare Part-B is Mandatory by Law to continue TRICARE coverage, even if it does not provide coverage outside of the US.

To keep TRICARE coverage, when military retirees and their spouses turn age 65, they must enroll in Medicare Part-B and pay the standard Part-B monthly premium.

Even though Medicare does not provide coverage outside of the US, Public Law 106-398, October 30, 2000, mandates Medicare Part-B enrollment if you wish to remain eligible for TRICARE for Life (TFL) at age 65 and beyond.

Apply for Medicare Part-B before your 65th birthday to avoid a break in TRICARE for Life coverage.

By taking a few simple steps, you can make sure you have your TRICARE benefits at age 65 and beyond.

Four months before your 65th birthday, you should receive a postcard from the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), the office that supports the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), with information about keeping TRICARE coverage at age 65 and beyond.

If you do not receive a postcard from DMDC, call them at (800) 538-9552.

You must have Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B to be eligible for TRICARE For Life, even if you live overseas and it does not provide coverage.

TRICARE For Life is the Medicare wrap-around coverage for TRICARE beneficiaries who are entitled to Medicare Part A and have Medicare Part B regardless of where you live.

The Medicare initial enrollment period is seven months. If you miss your initial enrollment period, your next chance to sign up for Medicare Part B is during the general enrollment period, Jan. 1 – March 31. Your coverage will begin July 1st, and your monthly premium for Part B may go up 10 percent for each 12-month period that you could have had Part B, but didn’t sign up for it. Also, there will be a lapse in your TRICARE coverage until Part B is effective.

Overseas, your nearest US Embassy can also assist with Medicare Part-B enrollment. When you tell the Embassy officer that you are retired military, or the spouse/survivor of a retired military service member, and they state you do not need Medicare Part-B overseas, they are incorrect. US Embassies overseas make this mistake and the beneficiary will be penalized by the SSA for enrolling late in Medicare Part-B to maintain TRICARE.

** Another way to enroll:

- If you are a military retiree, age 65, and already receiving SS retirement benefits, please enroll by completing Form CMS-40B.

- If you are a retiree, age 65, and have not applied for SS retirement benefits yet, please enroll in Medicare Part-B by completing Form CMS-40B or online at

- If you are a spouse or survivor of a retiree, aged 65, please enroll in Medicare Part-B by completing Form CMS-40B

- You can also apply for Medicare Part-B using your online SS account

Important: when applying for Medicare Part-B and have not applied for SS retirement benefits yet, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will contact you for further information. Provide a valid phone number, and area code, where you can be contacted.

REMEMBER: If you are enrolling in Medicare Part-B to keep your TRICARE for Life benefits, you must answer “YES” when the Social Security representative asks if you want to enroll in Medicare Part-B.

**For survivors (widow/widower), on Form CMS-40B, include the following in “Remarks”:

1) Your Deceased spouse’s Name and Social Security Number (SSN) if you do not have your own SSN

2) The word “TRICARE”

3) Indicate if you are receiving benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Write “VA Survivors Pension”

4) Write “Interpreter” and the language you require, if you need translation assistance for the follow-up telephone interview 

Veterans Service Officers (VSOs) are available to provide guidance and assistance. Click “VSO” on the main menu for details.