Retirees and military family members who have identification cards with no expiration date can choose to upgrade to the new Next Generation Uniform Services Identification, or USID, cards whenever it's convenient -- if it's done within the next four years, according to the Defense Department.
There is no looming deadline for use of those old non-active-duty cards without expiration dates, but the department expects to completely phase out and replace them with the next-generation IDs, which are more durable and have enhanced security features, by 2026, Maj. Charlie Dietz, a spokesman, told Military.com.
In the meantime, cards with expiration dates are required to be replaced within 90 days of elapsing. The Defense Department began the effort to update all those IDs to the new format in July 2020, but the changeover hit delays caused by the pandemic.
"DoD plans to phase out and cancel the existing card forms in 2026 when all existing cards with an actual expiration date will have expired," Dietz wrote in an email. "After then, only the USID card will be accepted for installation and benefits access."
The USID format for military retirees and dependents represents the first change to those identification cards in nearly 30 years; the last update was in 1993. The new design closely resembles the Common Access Card, or CAC, format issued to active-duty troops and department civilians.
But there was uncertainty among those with cards that list the expiration as indefinite. The IDs are needed to access military facilities and to confirm eligibility for various military benefits, so missing a deadline or losing the identification could disrupt cardholders' lives. Expired cards can be confiscated at base gates.
Those with cards with no expiration dates "may have the card replaced at their convenience," according to Dietz. The department recommends they go to the ID Card Office Online and use the office locator to find a site that issues the new cards and book an appointment.
Are you a retiree who will lose Tricare Select coverage Jan. 1? Here’s what to do.
More than 850,000 retirees and their family members who were enrolled in Tricare Select must now pay enrollment fees. Are you a military retiree who will lose Tricare Select coverage? You may not realize it yet — and you should take action to reinstate your coverage.
In 2021, for the first time, more than 850,000 retirees and family members enrolled in Tricare Select, must pay enrollment fees in order to continue their coverage. If you haven’t responded to the Defense Department’s clarion call to contact your Tricare regional contractor to set up a payment process, you lost coverage as of Jan. 1, and you’ll soon find your health care claims are denied.
But all is not lost. Defense officials have taken some steps to mitigate the impact to those who don’t set up their payments, said Mark Ellis, chief of policy and programs for the Tricare Health Plan.
These are so-called “Group A” retirees and their dependents — working-age retirees under age 65 who entered the military before Jan. 1, 2018, their family members and survivors. Previously, these beneficiaries didn’t have to pay enrollment fees for Tricare Select, but a 2017 law required the Defense Department to start charging these enrollment fees by Jan. 1, 2021. This doesn’t affect Tricare for Life.
The new fees are $12.50 per month, or $150 a year for an individual; and $25 a month, or $300 a year, for family coverage. These retirees/beneficiaries were urged to set up a payment process by the end of 2020 through their regional Tricare contractor, using allotment, recurring credit card or debit card transactions, or electronic funds transfer.
Tricare officials have extended the grace period for people to reinstate their Tricare Select coverage, from 90 days to 180 days, Ellis said. That means those who are terminated can pay their missed monthly premiums, and the coverage will be retroactive. Tricare will then pay the claims that were denied back to Jan. 1 because of the coverage termination.
Tricare officials have also directed the Tricare regional contractors to make at least three phone calls to households whose coverage was terminated because they didn’t set up their payments. They’ll call the home phone, cell phone, work phone, speaking to an adult in the household, letting them know their coverage has been terminated and what they can do to reinstate the coverage, Ellis said.