Veterans Benefits For Dummies
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Life insurance programs are valuable benefits offered to qualified military servicemembers and veterans. Current members of the military can choose from several life insurance programs (depending on their status), including Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI), Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (TSGLI), and Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI).

The government has established these life insurance programs because military members may find it hard to enroll in civilian life insurance programs because of the risks of military service and the possibility of service-connected disabilities and medical conditions.

Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI)

Members of active duty, the Reserves, and National Guard are automatically enrolled in the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program at the maximum coverage, unless they elect (in writing) a reduced amount or no coverage at all.

SGLI premiums are currently $0.065 per $1,000 of insurance, regardless of the member’s age, up to a maximum of $400,000 worth of coverage. That means the full coverage costs $27 per month. That’s quite a deal.

SGLI rates are subject to change. Check out the Servicemembers & Veterans Group Life Insurance page on the VA's website.

As an added bonus, coverage of $10,000 is also automatically provided for dependent children of members insured under SGLI with no premium required.

Unfortunately, in most cases SGLI coverage ends 120 days after release from the military. Service members with SGLI coverage have two options upon their release from service:

  • They can convert their SGLI coverage to term insurance under the Veterans’ Group Life Insurance program (VGLI).

  • They can convert to a permanent plan of insurance with a participating commercial insurance company. For a list of commercial insurance companies that work with the VA, visit the VA's website.

As a result of a law passed by Congress in 2005, service members who have an SGLI policy and are totally disabled when they separate from service can now keep their SGLI coverage for up to two years after separation at no cost.

Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (TSGLI)

All service members and veterans who are enrolled in the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program are automatically covered for Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (TSGLI) and pay a monthly premium of $1.

TSGLI provides financial assistance to covered members during their recovery period from a serious traumatic injury. Coverage ranges from $25,000 to $100,000, depending on the nature of the injury. For a list of payments, see the VA's website.

Coverage ends when the SGLI terminates, which in most cases is 120 days after separation from the military.

You don’t have to apply for this separate coverage. If you’re enrolled in SGLI, you’re enrolled in TSGLI automatically.

For a deceased member to be eligible for payment under the TSGLI program, he must have suffered a qualifying traumatic injury and survived for at least seven full days from the date of the traumatic injury. Insurance proceeds will then be paid to the beneficiary named by the member on his SGLI application.

Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI)

Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) is a program extended to the spouses and dependent children of members insured under the SGLI program.

FSGLI provides a maximum of $100,000 of insurance coverage for spouses, not to exceed the amount of SGLI the insured member has, and $10,000 for dependent children.

FSGLI is a service member benefit for which the member pays the premium and is the beneficiary of the policy. Monthly rates depend on the amount of coverage selected and the age of the spouse. See the VA's website for a table of current rates.

FSGLI is only available for family members of those currently in the military. To enroll your family members, contact your unit or base personnel office.

About This Article

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Rod Powers is a recognized expert in all U.S. military matters. A military author, his articles have appeared in numerous military and civilian publications. Powers is the co-author of the successful ASVAB For Dummies, 2nd Edition, and serves as a military guide for

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