Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, also known as SGLI, is a term life insurance policy offered to military members including active-duty, members of the Guard and Reserve, the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Public Health Service. Cadets, midshipmen, and Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) members are also eligible for coverage under SGLI.
The VA official site advises service members they are automatically covered under “full-time” SGLI if they meet one of the following prerequisites:
- The service member is an active duty member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard, or;
- Commissioned member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) or;
- Cadet or midshipman of the U.S. military academies or;
- Member, cadet, or midshipman of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) engaged in authorized training and practice cruises or;
- Member of the Ready Reserve or National Guard and are scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive training per year or;
- A servicemember who volunteers for a mobilization category in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR).
How Much Life Insurance Coverage Is Available With SGLI?
SGLI is offered in increments of $50,000 with a $400,000 maximum coverage cap. SGLI premiums have been listed by Defense Department official sites at under one dollar per $1,000 of insurance, offered with no consideration of the servicemember’s age. Servicemembers deployed to a combat zone will have their SGLI automatically increased to $400,000 without exception.
SGLI Coverage Information: Insurance For Those Retiring/Separating, Coverage Extensions, and Part-Time Coverage
Those receiving SGLI coverage who retire or separate from the military are offered 120 days of free coverage, effective from the official separation date.
SGLI coverage extensions are permitted (for up to 24 months) in cases where the servicemember is totally disabled at the time of retirement/separation.
The SGLI Disability Extension offers coverage for those totally disabled at the time of discharge-“totally disabled” meaning having a condition that prevents the veteran from working, and/or a condition that includes one or more of the following conditions (regardless of employment status):
- Permanent loss of use of both hands
- Permanent loss of use of both feet
- Permanent loss of use of both eyes
- Permanent loss of use of one hand and one foot
- Permanent loss of use of one foot and one eye
Part-time coverage is also provided to Reserve members who do not qualify for full-time coverage, with the caveat that part-time coverage does not permit the 120 days of free coverage once the reservist leaves military service.
SGLI Coverage For Ready Reserve or National Guard Members in Non-Pay Status
Some are still covered by SGLI if they are in the Ready Reserve or National Guard and are:
- scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive training per year, AND
- are drilling for points, rather than pay.
SGLI premiums are the same as those drilling for pay. How your premiums are to be paid during the non-pay period will be determined by your branch of service.
Converting SGLI To A Commercial Policy
The Department of Veterans Affairs official site says that anyone with SGLI coverage may convert to an individual insurance policy within 120 days from separation.
The SGLI Online Enrollment System
In April of 2017, The United States Navy began using an online SGLI system known as the SGLI Online Enrollment System (SOES) to sign up for or change life insurance coverage. The other branches of service followed suit, with the U.S. Marines being the last to convert-Marine online signups for SGLI started in May 2018.
Using the online system means those with full-time SGLI coverage are no longer required to change their coverages, beneficiary information or other details using a paper application. Those alterations can be made via www.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect
SGLI Online Enrollment For Qualifying Members Of The Coast Guard, NOAA or Public Health Service?
At the time of this writing, the VA official site informs Coast Guard, NOAA, and Public Health Service members, “you must complete and submit the SGLI form SGLV 8286, Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Election and Certificate. You should contact your Personnel Office for any changes to Basic SGLI or Family SGLI coverage.”
At press time, the availability of online SGLI service is scheduled for sometime in 2018, but this is subject to change.
SGLI Traumatic Injury Protection Program (TSGLI)
Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection is an automatic traumatic injury coverage program offered to those already covered under the SGLI program.
TSGLI offers “short-term financial assistance to severely injured Servicemembers and Veterans to assist them in their recovery from traumatic injuries” according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
This type of coverage is for combat injuries, but not limited to them. TSGLI also covers service members for injuries incurred on or off duty.
Who Is Eligible For TSGLI?
Anyone automatically covered via full-time SGLI is also automatically eligible for TSGLI, which is offered to active duty members, reservists, National Guard members, plus those performing funeral honors duty, and “one-day muster” duty.
All of the following must apply to be eligible for TSGLI coverage:
- The military member must already be insured by SGLI in the event of a traumatic injury;
- The military member must experience a “scheduled loss” which may include amputations, loss of eyesight, or other serious injuries;
- The scheduled loss must be a “direct result of a traumatic injury”;
- The traumatic injury must occur before the service member’s separation date;
- The scheduled loss must occur within two years of the traumatic injury;
- The service member must survive the injury for seven full days from the date of the traumatic injury.
If you need to learn what is covered under the “scheduled loss” category, the VA official site provides a chart explaining coverage amounts and qualifying injuries.
Retroactive TSGLI May Be Available
Those who incurred severe losses as a result of traumatic injuries incurred between October 7, 2001, and November 30, 2005, may be eligible for retroactive TSGLI.
This is true no matter where the injury occurred or whether coverage was in effect at the time of injury. The VA provides an eligibility questionnaire to help veterans determine if they may receive consideration for retroactive TSGLI.
SGLI Options: Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI)
Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance offers term life insurance to qualifying military spouses and dependents of those eligible for coverage under SGLI. Spouses require a premium but dependent children are covered at no charge to the service member.
Who Is Eligible For FSGLI?
Spouses and dependents are eligible for FSGLI if the military member meets the following criteria:
- Active duty Servicemembers covered by full-time SGLI and,
- Members of the National Guard or Ready Reserve of a uniformed service covered by full-time SGLI.
This coverage is not offered to those covered under the VGLI program (see below). Veterans who qualify for SGLI may insure spouses, “regardless of whether your spouse is on active duty, retired, or is a civilian” according to the VA official site.
FSGLI Coverage Amounts
FSGLI coverage is capped at $100,000 for spouses, (not to exceed the Servicemembers’ SGLI coverage), plus $10,000 of coverage for eligible dependent children. Spouse and dependent coverage may not be automatic; you will need to see whether you have been automatically enrolled or whether you must manually elect coverage for spouses and children.
SGLI Options: Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI)
Veterans’ Group Life Insurance allows veterans to continue life insurance coverage as long as the premiums are paid. Veterans are eligible to apply for the same maximum coverage offered under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance that the veteran carried when they separated from the military.
Vets can also choose smaller coverage available in increments of $10,000.
Those who enroll in VGLI may increase coverage by $25,000 every five years (up to the maximum coverage available under the program) until the veteran reaches 60 years of age.
Other Options: Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance
The Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) program was established in 1951 to assist those with VA-rated service-connected disabilities. S-DVI is available in a variety of plans that include term insurance options. S-DVI has a maximum coverage amount of $10,000.
Who Qualifies For S-DVI?
There are four requirements to qualify for Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance:
- The veteran retired or separated from active duty under other than dishonorable conditions on or after April 25, 1951;
- The veteran was VA-rated for a service-connected disability;
- The veteran is in good health except for VA-rated service-connected conditions;
- The veteran applies within two years from the date VA gives a final determination of the service-connected disability.
VA rules state that an increase in an existing service-connected disability or the granting of individual unemployability of a previous rated condition “does not entitle a veteran to this insurance”.
What Was Combat SGLI?
In 2007, the National Defense Authorization Act included provisions for reimbursement of SGLI premiums who served “in-theater” for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) or Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). In 2010, OIF was redesignated as Operation New Dawn (OND) but that name change did not affect the availability of Combat SGLI.
Combat SGLI allowed the service member who deployed to OEF or OND to increase their life insurance premiums to the maximum level. The deduction amount increased accordingly but was nullified by a reciprocal credit for the same amount. In short, the SGLI deduction increased but was offset by a credit of the same amount on the member’s Leave and Earnings Statement.
These operations (OEF and OND) have since closed according to the VA official site.
VA Assistance With Servicemembers Group Life Insurance and Online Will Prep
The Department of Veterans Affairs makes counseling services available for veterans and currently serving men and women in uniform to help assign beneficiaries, write last wills and testaments, and other crucial planning. This counseling is a no-cost benefit for the following programs:
- SGLI (Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance)
- TSGLI (Traumatic Injury Protection)
- FSGLI (Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance)
- VGLI (Veterans’ Group Life Insurance)
This help may be sourced via Command Financial Specialists or Financial Readiness Counselors, and help is also available online from www.militaryonesource.mil.
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