Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
Chapter 7 VA Life Insurance
Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors
For complete details on government life insurance, visit www.benefits.va.gov/insurance/ or call VA’s Insurance Center toll-free at 1-800-669-8477. Specialists are available between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., Eastern Time, to discuss premium payments, insurance dividends, address changes, policy loans, naming beneficiaries, reporting the death of the insured, and other insurance issues.
If the insurance policy number is not known, provide whatever information is available, such as the Veteran’s VA file number, date of birth, Social Security number, military serial number or military service branch and dates of service. To provide the information by mail, send it to:
Department of Veterans Affairs Insurance Center
PO Box 42954
Philadelphia, PA 19101
For information about Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, Veterans’ Group Life Insurance, Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection, or Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Family Coverage, visit the Website above or call the Office of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance directly at 1-800- 419-1473.
Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)
The following are automatically insured for $400,000 under SGLI:
- Active duty members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
- Commissioned members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Public Health Service (PHS).
- Cadets or midshipmen of the U.S. military academies.
- Members, cadets and midshipmen of the ROTC while engaged in authorized training and practice cruises.
- Members of the Ready Reserves/National Guard who are scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive training per year.
- Members who volunteer for a mobilization category in the Individual Ready Reserve.
Individuals may elect in writing to be covered for a lesser amount or to decline coverage. SGLI coverage is available in $50,000 increments up to the maximum of $400,000.
Full-time Servicemembers on active duty are covered 24/7, 365 days of the year. Coverage is in effect during the period of active duty or inactive duty training and for 120 days following separation or release from duty. Reservists or National Guard members who have been assigned to a unit in which they are scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive duty that is creditable for retirement purposes are also covered 24/7, 365 days of the year and for 120 days following separation or release from duty.
Part-time coverage is provided for Reservists or National Guard members who do not qualify for the full-time coverage described above. Part-time coverage generally applies to Reservists/ National Guard members who drill only a few days in a year. These individuals are covered only while on active duty or active duty for training, or traveling to and from such duty. Members covered part-time do not receive 120 days of free coverage after separation unless they incur or aggravate a disability during a period of duty.
SGLI Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI)
Members of the armed services serve our nation heroically during times of great need, but what happens when they experience great needs of their own because they have sustained a traumatic injury? TSGLI provides for payment traumatically injured Servicemembers who have suffered certain physical losses. The TSGLI benefit ranges between $25,000 and $100,000 depending on the loss,. TSGLI helps Servicemembers by allowing their families to be with them during their recovery or by helping with other expenses incurred during their recovery period.
TSGLI is attached to SGLI. An additional $1.00 is added to the Servicemember’s SGLI premium to cover TSGLI. After Dec. 1, 2005, all Servicemembers who are covered by SGLI are automatically also covered by TSGLI. TSGLI cannot be declined unless the Servicemember also declines basic SGLI. TSGLI claims are adjudicated by the individual military branches of service.
In addition, there is retroactive TSGLI coverage for Servicemembers who sustained a qualifying loss between Oct. 7, 2001, and Nov. 30, 2005, regardless of where it occurred TSGLI coverage is payable to these Servicemembers regardless of whether they had SGLI coverage in force at the time of their injury.
For more information and branch of service contact information, visit www.benefits.va.gov/insurance/tsgli.asp, or call 1-800-237-1336 (Army); 1-800-368-3202 (Navy); 1-877-216-0825 (Marine Corps); 1-800-433-0048 (Active Duty Air Force); 1-800-525-0102 (Air Force Reserves); 1-240-612-9140 (Air National Guard); 1-703-872-6647 (U.S. Coast Guard); 1-301-427-3280 (PHS); or 1-301-713-3444 (NOAA).
Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Family Coverage (FSGLI):
coverage consists of spousal coverage and dependent child coverage. FSGLI provides up to $100,000 of life insurance coverage for spouses of Servicemembers with full-time SGLI coverage, not to exceed the amount of SGLI the member has in force. Premiums for spouse coverage are based on the age of the spouse and the amount of FSGLI coverage. FSGLI is a Servicemembers’ benefit; the member pays the premium and is the only person allowed to be the beneficiary of the coverage.
FSGLI spousal coverage ends 120 days after any of the following events:
- the Servicemember elects in writing to terminate coverage on the spouse;
- the Servicemember elects to terminate his or her own SGLI coverage;
- the Servicemember dies;
- the Servicemember separates from service; or
- the Servicemember is divorced from the spouse.
The insured spouse may convert his or her FSGLI coverage to a permanent policy offered by participating private insurers within 120 days of the date of any of the termination events noted above. FSGLI dependent coverage of $10,000 is also automatically provided for dependent children of Servicemembers insured under SGLI, with no premium required.
Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI)
SGLI may be converted to VGLI, which provides renewable term coverage to:
- Veterans who had full-time SGLI coverage upon separation from active duty or the Reserves.
- Members of the Ready Reserves/National Guard with part- time SGLI coverage who incur a disability or aggravate a pre-existing disability during a period of active duty or a period of inactive duty for less than 31 days that renders them uninsurable at standard premium rates.
- Members of the Individual Ready Reserve and Inactive National Guard.
Servicemembers must apply for VGLI within one year and 120 days from separation. Servicemembers discharged on or after November 1, 2012, who apply for VGLI within 240 days of separation do not need to submit evidence of good health, while Servicemembers who apply after the 240-day period must submit evidence of insurability. The initial VGLI coverage available is equal to the amount of SGLI coverage at the time of separation from service.
Effective April 11, 2011, VGLI insureds who are under age 60 and have less than $400,000 in coverage can purchase up to $25,000 of additional coverage on each five-year anniversary of their coverage, up to the maximum $400,000. No medical underwriting is required for the additional coverage.
SGLI Disability Extension Servicemembers who are totally disabled at the time of separation (unable to work or have certain statutory conditions), can apply for the SGLI Disability Extension, which provides free coverage for up to two years from the date of separation. To apply, Servicmembers must complete and return SGLV 8715, the SGLI Disability Extension Application.
Those covered under the SGLI Disability Extension are automatically converted to VGLI at the end of their extension period, subject to the payment of premiums. VGLI is convertible at any time to a permanent plan policy with any participating commercial insurance company.
Accelerated Death Benefits
Like many private life insurance companies, the SGLI, FSGLI and VGLI programs offer an accelerated benefits option to terminally ill insured members. An insured member is considered to be terminally ill if he or she has a written medical prognosis of nine months or less to live. All terminally ill members are eligible to receive up to 50 percent of their SGLI or VGLI coverage, and terminally ill spouses can receive up to 50 percent of their FSGLI, in a lump sum. Payment of an accelerated benefit reduces the amount payable to the beneficiaries at the time of the insured’s death. To apply, an insured member must submit SGLV 8284, Servicemember/Veteran Accelerated Benefit Option Form, and spouses must complete SGLV 8284A, Servicemember Family Coverage Accelerated Benefits Option Form.
Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI)
Veterans who separated from service on or after Apr. 25, 1951, under other than dishonorable conditions who have service-connected disabilities, even zero percent, but are otherwise in good health, may apply to VA for up to $10,000 in life insurance coverage under the S-DVI program. Applications must be submitted within two years from the date of being notified of the approval of a new service-connected disability by VA.
Veterans who are totally disabled may apply for a waiver of premiums. If approved for waiver of premiums, the Veteran can apply for additional supplemental insurance coverage of up to $30,000. However, premiums cannot be waived on the additional supplemental insurance. To be eligible for this type of supplemental insurance, Veterans must meet all of the following three requirements:
- Be under age 65.
- Be eligible for a waiver of premiums due to total disability.
- Apply for additional insurance within one year from the date of notification of waiver approval on the basic S-DVI policy.
Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI):
VMLI is mortgage protection insurance available to severely disabled Veterans who have been approved by VA for a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant. Maximum coverage is the smaller of the existing mortgage balance or $200,000, and is payable only to the mortgage company. Protection is issued automatically following SAH approval, provided the Veteran submits mortgage information required to establish a premium and does not decline coverage. Coverage automatically terminates when the mortgage is paid off. If a mortgage is disposed of through sale of the property, VMLI may be obtained on the mortgage of another home.
Other Insurance Information
The following information applies only to policies issued to World War II, Korean-era, and Vietnam-era Veterans and any Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance policies. Policies in this group are prefixed bythe letters K, V, RS, W, J, JR, JS, or RH.
Insurance Dividends Issued Annually: World War II and Korean- era Veterans with active policies beginning with the letters V, RS, W, J, JR, JS, or K earn tax-free dividends annually on the policy anniversary date. (Policies prefixed by RH do not earn dividends.) Policyholders do not need to apply for dividends, but may select from among the following dividend options:
- Cash: The dividend is paid directly to the insured by direct deposit to a bank account or by check.
- Paid-Up Additional Insurance: The dividend is used to purchase additional insurance coverage.
- Credit or Deposit: The dividend is held in an account for the policyholder with interest. Withdrawals from the account can be made at any time. The interest rate may be adjusted.
- Net Premium Billing Options: These options use the dividend to pay the annual policy premium. If the dividend exceeds the premium, the policyholder has options to choose how the remainder is used. If the dividend is not enough to pay an annual premium, the policyholder is billed the balance.
- Other Dividend Options: Dividends can also be used to repay a loan or pay premiums in advance.
Reinstating Lapsed Insurance:
Lapsed term policies may be reinstated within five years from the date of lapse. A five-year term policy that is not lapsed at the end of the term is automatically renewed for an additional five years. Lapsed permanent plans may be reinstated within certain time limits and with certain health requirements. Reinstated permanent plan policies require repayment of all back premiums, plus interest.
Converting Term Policies:
Term policies are renewed automatically every five years, with premiums increasing at each renewal. Premiums do not increase after age 70. Term policies may be converted to permanent plans, which have fixed premiums for life and earn cash and loan values. Dividends on Capped Term Policies Effective Sept. 2000, VA provides either a cash dividend or paid- up insurance on term policies whose premiums have been capped.
Veterans with National Service Life Insurance (NSLI) term insurance that has renewed at age 71 or older and who stop paying premiums on their policies will be given a “termination dividend.” This dividend can either be received as a cash payment or used to purchase a reduced amount of paid-up insurance, which insures the Veteran for life with no premium payments required. The amount of the reduced paid-up insurance remains level. This does not apply to S-DVI (RH) policies.
Borrowing on Policies Policyholders with permanent plan policies may borrow up to 94 percent of the cash surrender value of their insurance after the insurance is in force for one year or more. Interest is compounded annually. The loan interest rate is variable and may be obtained by calling toll-free 1-800-669-8477.