Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) is a life insurance option offered to veterans who have a qualifying service-connected disability. S-DVI is a low-cost option offered only to those who meet the qualifying requirements and have qualifying military service (see below).
When enrolled in S-DVI, your benefits include up to $10,000 in life insurance coverage and up to $30,000 in supplemental coverage (see below). Your insurance coverage can be increased; if you are covered under S-DVI and become totally disabled (inability to work is an important factor here) you may apply to have your coverage increased by $30,000.
When asking about this option, be sure to ask for it by name; Supplemental S-DVI coverage.
If you carry the basic S-DVI coverage and become totally disabled and unable to work, you can apply to get up to $30,000 more in coverage, known as supplemental S-DVI coverage.
This additional $30,000 of supplemental coverage may be approved if you qualify for a premiums waiver, and you meet both of the following requirements:
- The veteran must apply within one year from the date of receipt of the grant of waiver
- The veteran is younger than age 65
The cost of your S-DVI plan will vary depending on several factors:
- Applicant age
- The amount of insurance needed
- The coverage plan requested
The VA publishes a pamphlet explaining the costs and how they break down based on the factors mentioned above.
S-DVI Premium Waivers
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers to waive S-DVI premiums in cases where the veteran becomes “totally disabled from any condition before your 65th birthday” and remains so for six or more consecutive months.
Those who receive a waiver do not pay premiums as long as the veteran is totally disabled. You are permitted to apply for these S-DVI premium waivers even if your disability started “before you apply for RH insurance.” The percentage of your VA rating does not play a role in approval or denial of these waivers.
Who Qualifies For Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance
S-DVI is offered to those who meet all the following requirements:
- The service member was released from active duty on or after April 25, 1951
- The service member did not receive a dishonorable discharge
- The veteran was VA-rated for a service-connected disability
- The veteran is otherwise “in good health except for any service-connected conditions”
- The benefit must be applied for within 234 months of the VA rating for your service-connected disability
Important S-DVI Qualification Issues
S-DVI is only offered for new disabilities, and is not offered for increases for disabilities you were rated for in the past.
One of the most important things to remember about this list of qualifying requirements? ANY rating assigned by the Department of Veterans Affairs may qualify you for consideration. That includes zero percent (0%) VA disability ratings. It is possible to be rated at 0% for certain service-connected medical issues and a zero percent rating is NOT the same as no rating at all.
Another important issue–according to the VA official site, “An increase of a rating you had before—or a rating of Individual Unemployability, meaning you can’t work—doesn’t qualify you for S-DVI.”
Another issue related to your basic eligibility for this program is centered on the nature of your military discharge. The list above says in order to be approved for S-DVI, you must not have received a dishonorable discharge.
However, the VA official site adds that some may have trouble qualifying for this insurance benefit if they have punitive discharges such as:
- Other Than Honorable Discharge
- Bad Conduct Discharge
- Dishonorable Discharge
Of the three, we’ve already covered Dishonorable. As for the other two, the VA official site says if your military discharge is characterized as punitive, “you may not be eligible for VA benefits”. But all is not lost for those who aren’t sure they qualify–you can petition the government for a discharge upgrade via a discharge review board.
But there is also the option of having the VA review your discharge. The VA official site advises that a review procedure called the Character of Discharge review could determine whether your discharge is “honorable for VA purposes.”
The VA official site states clearly that this process is not automatic, must be applied for, and requires you to submit supporting documentation to be reviewed along with your claim. Was your military discharge related to any of the following? If so, you may qualify for a review:
- Mental health conditions, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Sexual assault or harassment during military service, also known as Military Sexual Trauma (MST)
- Sexual orientation (including under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy)
How To Apply For S-DVI
To apply for S-DVI you’ll need to fill out a basic S-DVI questionnaire online at the VA official site, or you can download and complete VA Form 29-4364, Fill out an Application for Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance and upload the form or mail it to
Department of Veterans Affairs
Regional Office and Insurance Center (RH)
PO Box 7208
Philadelphia, PA 19101
When applying for supplemental S-DVI, complete and submit VA Form 29-0188, Application for Supplemental Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance “or send a letter requesting this insurance over your signature,” according to the VA.
Apply for the coverage within one year from the date you receive notice of the grant of waiver of premiums.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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