By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2011 - A range of information about Defense Department benefits information and eligibility is now available online, the director of the Defense Manpower Data Center said yesterday.
Two new online efforts -- milConnect and eCorrespondence -- give beneficiaries 24/7 access to personnel information; the ability to update information related to health, education and other benefits; and e-mail notifications about changes in benefits, Mary Dixon told American Forces Press Service.
"At the Defense Manpower Data Center, one of our many responsibilities is to be the interface with beneficiaries, especially on benefits and eligibility for benefits," Dixon said.
MilConnect, available online and through a mobile application for the Android smart phone, was known for a year as the mydodbenefits website.
The revamped milConnect site is available online, around-the-clock, to all DOD beneficiaries and their spouses and children age 18 or older.
Users can sign on in several ways, Dixon said.
Anyone who has a common access card, a Defense Finance and Accounting Services myPay account logon, or a DOD Self-Service or DS logon can sign in on the MilConnect website, or apply at the site for a DS logon.
MilConnect information comes from the Defense Enrollment Eligibility System called DEERS. Eligible users are active duty, National Guard and Reserve members; and military retirees, spouses and eligible family members age 18 and older.
Sponsors can view information about all dependents listed in DEERS but eligible dependents can see only their own information, unless accommodations are made for spouse, legal guardian or caregiver access.
Beneficiaries who use milConnect, Dixon said, can update DEERS contact information, manage health care enrollments, locate the nearest military ID card issuing facility, view personnel information, transfer education benefits to eligible family members, view group life insurance information, and manage other information.
Army National Guard, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard can update civilian employment information.
The mobile application works today on Android phones, but Dixon said her center is in the process of making MilConnect available for iPhones and other smart phones and mobile devices.
The smart phone app lets users find sites for the Real-time Automated Personnel Identification System called RAPIDS, where military members receive new ID cards, military treatment facilities, and contact information for Tricare regional offices.
Related to milConnect, Dixon said, is an initiative called eCorrespondence that will use e-mail notifications of changes in benefits rather than postal service letters for active-duty service members and National Guard and Reserve service members on periods of active duty.
E-mail notifications will be sent to the e-mail address associated with a service member's common access card, Dixon said.
Beginning this month, service members will receive e-mail notifications of a change in Tricare primary-care manager, of potential eligibility changes when a child turns 21 or 23, and of the ability to view or print a Tricare enrollment card and welcome letter after enrollment into a Tricare medical or dental program.
The e-mail notifications will refer service members to the milConnect web portal.
Service members will be able to check Tricare eligibility and information through the MilConnect portal, whether or not they receive an e-mail notification.
Dixon said service members also can opt out of the e-mail notifications.
"We're hoping to continue to expand both the things that we let you know by e-mail ... and to expand to other kinds of benefits changes and to additional populations," she said, including retirees.
"It's a little bit hard with retirees because we don't necessarily know their e-mail addresses," she added. "But that's something they can enter into the system on milConnect."
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