Servicemembers' and Veterans' Group - Life Insurance Handbook
1.01 GENERAL INFORMATION
1.03 PERSONS ELIGIBLE TO BE INSURED
1.04 EFFECTIVE DATE OF INSURANCE
1.05 PERIODS OF COVERAGE
1.06 EXTENSION OF COVERAGE BASED ON DISABILITY
1.07 COST OF INSURANCE
1.08 CONTINUITY OF ELECTIONS AND DESIGNATIONS
1.09 INFORMATION TO BE PROVIDED TO MEMBERS
1.10 FORFEITURE OF GROUP INSURANCE
1.11 ASSIGNMENT, TAXATION, AND CLAIMS OF CREDITORS
1.12 LEGISLATIVE HISTORY
a. Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) is the life insurance currently available to all members of the uniformed services. SGLI is a group life insurance policy purchased by VA from a commercial life insurance company.
b. The Office of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (OSGLI) administers the SGLI program. The office can by contacted by:
Toll-free telephone: 1-800-419-1473 E-mail: email@example.com
Death and accelerated benefits claims only:
All other inquiries: 1-800-236-6142
Office of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance
80 Livingston Avenue
Roseland, New Jersey 07068-1733
c. The insurance issued under the group policy is term insurance. SGLI does not pay dividends. In addition, there are no loan, cash, paid-up or extended insurance values, or any provision for waiver of premiums or benefit because of total disability, accidents, etc., except as described in paragraph 1.06.
d. Members on active duty, active duty for training or inactive duty for training and members of the Ready Reserve or National Guard are automatically covered for $400,000, the maximum amount of coverage.
e. Each member should complete a copy of form SGLV 8286, Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Election and Certificate (see appendix A) to designate one or more beneficiaries to receive payment of the insurance proceeds. A copy of this form also serves as a certificate of coverage. SGLV Form 8286 can be downloaded from this site.
f. Members who elect to be insured for less than the maximum amount, or elect to decline coverage entirely, must also complete form SGLV 8286, Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Election and Certificate.
g. Coverage under the group life insurance policy does not affect an insured's right to retain any other government or private insurance, or his or her entitlement to other Veterans' benefits. For example, a member can be insured for up to $400,000 in Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) coverage and have $400,000 of SGLI coverage at the same time.
(1) A person on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training in the uniformed services in a commissioned, warrant, or enlisted rank or grade, or as a cadet or midshipman at the United States Military Academy, United States Air Force Academy or the United States Coast Guard Academy;
(2) A person who volunteers for assignment to the Ready Reserve or Guard of a uniformed service and is assigned to a unit or position in which he or she may be required to perform active duty or active duty for training and each year will be scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive duty training that is creditable for retirement purposes under title 10, United States Code, chapter 1223;
(3) A person who volunteers for assignment to a "mobilization" category in the Individual Ready Reserve that makes them subject to being ordered to active duty involuntarily in accordance with section 12304 of title 10, United States Code.
(4) A member, cadet, or midshipman of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) while attending field training or practice cruises.
b. Active Duty:
(1) Full-time duty in the Armed Forces, other than active duty for training;
(2) Full-time duty (other than for training purposes) as a commissioned officer of the Regular or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service (PHS);
(3) Full-time duty as commissioned officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and
(4) Full-time duty as a cadet or midshipman at the United States Military Academy, United States Naval Academy, United States Air Force Academy, or the United States Coast Guard Academy.
c. Armed Forces: the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and the Reserves/Guard thereof.
d. Active duty for training:
(1) Full-time duty in the Armed Forces performed by Reserves/Guard for training purposes;
(2) Full-time duty for training purposes as a commissioned officer of the Reserve Corps of the PHS;
(3) Full-time duty as a member, cadet or midshipman of the ROTC while attending field training or practice cruises; or
(4) Full-time duty under 32 U.S.C. 316, 502, 503, 504, or 505 as a member of the Army National Guard or Air National Guard of any State.
e. Inactive duty training:
(1) Duty (other than full-time duty) authorized for Reserves (including commissioned officers of the Reserve Corps of the PHS) which is scheduled in advance by competent authority to begin at a specific time and place; or
(2) Duty in the case of members of the Army National Guard or Air National Guard of any State, means duty (other than full-time duty) which is scheduled in advance by competent authority to begin at a specific time and place under 32 U.S.C. 316, 502, 503, 504, or 505.
f. "Active duty for training" and "inactive duty training" do not include:
(1) Duty performed as a temporary member of the Coast Guard Reserve;
(2) Work or study performed in connection with correspondence courses; or
(3) Attendance at an educational institution in an inactive status.
g. Uniformed services:
(1) Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard;
(2) Corresponding Reserve and the ROTC of each of the above;
(3) Army National Guard and Air National Guard;
(4) Commissioned Corps of the PHS and its Reserve Corps; and
(5) Commissioned Corps of the NOAA.
h. Termination of duty:
(1) Discharge, release or separation from active duty or active duty for training being performed under a call or order that does not specify a period of less than 31 days; or
(2) In the case of other duty, the member's release from his or her obligation to perform any duty in his or her uniformed service (active duty, active duty for training or inactive duty training) whether arising from limitations included in a contract of enlistment or similar form of obligation, or arising from resignation, retirement or other voluntary or involuntary action that terminates the obligation to perform.
(1) When a member terminates duty or obligation to perform duty in one service and enters on duty, or assumes the obligation to perform duty, in another uniformed service, regardless of the length of time intervening; or
(2) When a member re-enters on duty, or resumes an obligation to perform duty as a Reservist or National Guard member, in the same uniformed service and one calendar day or more has elapsed following termination of the prior period of duty or obligation to perform duty.
j. Waiver: means an election in writing, signed by a member and received by the uniformed service, not to be insured for SGLI.
a. Full-time coverage is provided for the following members of the uniformed services while performing full-time active duty or active duty for training, under calls or orders that do not specify periods of less than 31 days:
(1) Commissioned, warrant and enlisted members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard and commissioned members of the NOAA and PHS;
(2) Members of the Ready Reserve/Guard of a uniformed service who are assigned to a unit or position in which they may be required to perform active duty or active duty for training and each year will be scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive duty training that is creditable for retirement purposes under title 10, United States Code.
(3) Members of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) who volunteer for assignment to a "mobilization" category under section 12304 (i)(1) of title 10, United States Code.
(4) Cadets or midshipmen of the United States Military Academy, United States Naval Academy, United States Air Force Academy and the United States Coast Guard Academy
b. Part-time coverage is provided to the following eligible members of the Reserves who do not qualify for full-time coverage while performing active duty or active duty for training under calls or orders specifying periods of less than 31 days:
(1) Commissioned, warrant and enlisted members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Reserves (except temporary members of the Coast Guard Reserve);
(2) Members of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) during one-day call-ups;
(3) Reserve Corps of the PHS;
(4) The Army National Guard and Air National Guard while performing duty under 32 U.S.C. 316, 502, 503, 504, or 505; and (5) Members, cadets and midshipmen of the ROTC, while attending field training or practice cruises and;
(5) Members, cadets or midshipmen of the ROTC while attending field training or practice cruises.
a. The effective date of coverage for members on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training is:
(1) The first day of active duty or active duty for training; or
(2) The beginning of a period of inactive duty training.
b. For members who previously declined coverage or elected to be insured for less than the maximum amount, the effective date of coverage is the date an application electing coverage or an increase in coverage is received by the member's branch of service. If it is necessary for such application to be forwarded to the OSGLI for review, the effective date of coverage will be the date the application was received by the service. However, premium deductions will not begin until OSGLI has approved the application.
a. Full-time Coverage
(1) For members performing active duty or active duty for training under a call or order that does not specify a period of less than 31 days, coverage is in effect during the period of such duty and for 120 days following separation or release.
(2) For members of the Ready Reserves/Guard who are eligible for full-time coverage under the law, coverage is in effect during the period of such duty or status and for 120 days following separation or release from such duty.
(3) For members who are totally disabled at separation or release, coverage is extended for a limited time beyond the 120 days. (See paragraph 1.06.)
b. Part-time Coverage
(1) Active Periods. Eligible members of the Reserves or National Guard performing active duty or active duty for training, under calls or orders specifying periods less than 31 days, are insured during the actual days of such duty. Hereafter, these are referred to as Reservist active periods.
(2) Inactive Periods. Eligible members of the Reserves or National Guard, performing inactive duty training (brief periods of less than a day of drills, etc.) scheduled in advance by competent authority to begin at a specific time and place, are insured during the actual time of such inactive duty training period.
(3) In Route. Members are also covered while proceeding directly to and returning directly from the Reservist active or inactive period of duty.
(4) Members eligible for part-time coverage become eligible for full-time coverage when they perform active duty or active duty for training, under calls or orders that do not specify periods of less than 31 days.
a. Full-time Coverage. If a member who has full-time SGLI coverage, is totally disabled at the time of separation or release from active duty, Ready Reserves or National Guard, SGLI coverage will continue for as long as the member remains totally disabled, up to a maximum of two years from the date of release or separation, but in no event less than 120 days from the date of separation or release. Hereafter, this coverage is called the SGLI Disability Extension.
An application for the SGLI Disability Extension may be obtained at the forms download page on this site. It is recommended that members apply for the SGLI Disability Extension within 240 days from discharge so that if they are found ineligible for the SGLI Disability Extension they will be automatically approved for Veterans' Group Life Insurance coverage without any health review. Members who apply for the SGLI Disability Extension after 240 days and who are not approved for the coverage, may not qualify for Veterans' Group Life Insurance if they have serious health problems.
b. Part-time Coverage. If a member, who has part-time SGLI coverage, incurs a disability or aggravates an existing disability while SGLI coverage is in force, the following will apply:
(1) The insurance is payable if death results from such incurred or aggravated disability within 120 days following the Reservist active or inactive period during which the disability was incurred or aggravated.
(2) If such disability causes the member to be uninsurable at standard rates, the insurance continues for 120 days following the Reservist active or inactive period during which the disability was incurred or aggravated and the member is eligible to convert to VGLI coverage prior to the 121st day. Application must be made to the OSGLI during this 120 day period. (See paragraph 1.01b for address.)
(3) In determining whether an individual was authorized to perform duty and whether the member was rendered uninsurable or died within 120 days thereafter from a disability incurred or aggravated the following will be taken into account:
(a) The call or order to duty, the order and authorizations of competent authority;
(b) The hour on which the member began to proceed to or return from such duty;
(c) The hour on which the member was scheduled to arrive for, or on which he or she ceased to perform such duty;
(d) The method of travel employed;
(e) The member's itinerary;
(f) The manner in which travel was performed; and
(g) The immediate cause of disability or death.
a. The cost of SGLI is shared by the member and the Government. The member pays the normal cost of the insurance (the premium) and the Government pays the cost of all death claims in excess of the level of death claims which would result from normal peacetime service in the uniformed services.
b. For all members entitled to SGLI coverage, the necessary amount will be deducted from the member's service pay or otherwise collected from the member by the uniformed service.
c. The monthly contribution by members on active duty and members of the Ready Reserve and National Guard will be $26.00 per year for $400,000 of coverage and .065 cents per $10,000 for lesser amounts. An additional $1.00 per month is added to the basic premium for a traumatic injury protection rider (see Chapter 11 for more information). The premium for part-time SGLI coverage will be $26.00 per year for $400,000 of coverage. An additional $1.00 per year is added to the basic premium for a traumatic injury protection rider (see Chapter 11 for more information). Members of the IRR will be charged a premium of $1.00 for $400,000 insurance for 1-day call-ups. All rates are subject to change based on the experience of the program.
d. The law, Title 38 of the United States Code, section 1969, requires the uniformed services to remit amounts equal to the deduction which should have been made for members who are provided full-time or part-time coverage and who are not receiving pay. DoD is responsible for seeking reimbursement from the member for the cost of the coverage provided to those not receiving pay.
e. No withholdings or deductions will be made for SGLI from terminal leave or separation pay for any period the insurance remains in force following separation or release from active duty.
The rules in this section apply whenever a member performs any of the following actions:
- Elects not to be insured;
- Elects to be insured for a reduced amount (less than $400,000);
- Designates a beneficiary; or
- Elects a mode of settlement to the beneficiary.
a. Full-time Coverage
(1) Elections and designations for members insured under full-time coverage are effective only during the period of duty in which a member is serving and for 120 days thereafter. (If a member is totally disabled, this period is extended to two years following separation or release.)
(2) If a member converts his or her SGLI coverage to VGLI and does not designate a beneficiary for VGLI, the beneficiary election for SGLI will remain in effect for not more than 60 days following the effective date of VGLI. After this 60-day period, the designation will automatically become a "By Law" designation. (See chapter 12, paragraph 12.08b.)
(3) A member may change his or her beneficiary designation and/or mode of settlement during the 120-day period following termination of duty and such election will replace any prior election and will continue for the remainder of the 120-day period. Designations or elections made during this period should be sent to the OSGLI. (See paragraph 1.01b for address.)
(4) The beneficiary designation and election of mode of payment continue to apply for any member who resumes the obligation to perform duty or re-enters on duty in the same uniformed service on the day following termination of a period of obligation to perform duty.
(5) Any existing election of mode of settlement and designation of beneficiary is automatically canceled and a new election or designation must be submitted when:
(a) A member resumes an obligation to perform duty or re-enters on duty in the same uniformed service and one calendar day or more has elapsed following termination of a previous obligation or duty; or
(b) A member assumes an obligation to perform duty or re-enters on duty in a different uniformed service at any time.
(6) An election to be insured for a reduced amount or an election not to be insured does not apply to a new period of coverage. Unless a new election to be insured for a reduced amount or an election not to be insured is filed with the member's uniformed service, a new period of coverage begins in the amount of $400,000 and any prior election not to be insured or to be insured for a reduced amount is canceled.
b. Part-time Coverage
(1) Elections and designations for members who qualify for part-time coverage continue in effect during the periods of continuous obligation to perform duty in the same uniformed service including periods of duty or active duty for training which entitle the member to full-time coverage.
(2) Any election or designation for members who qualify for full-time service continues to be effective for the coverage period following separation (generally 120 days) or release from such duty, and continues for part-time coverage thereafter if the member immediately resumes the obligation to perform duty.
(3) If part-time coverage is extended by reason of incurred or aggravated disability for 120 days following a period of active duty, an election or designation is also effective throughout that extended period.
a. Under the provisions of the Veterans Benefits Improvements Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-275), the uniformed services are required to furnish members general information regarding life insurance whenever a member has the opportunity to make an election not to be insured or to be insured in an amount less than the maximum amount of $400,000, and at other times periodically. This information should include: the purpose and role of life insurance in financial planning; the difference between term life insurance and whole life insurance; the availability of commercial life insurance; and the relationship between SGLI and VGLI.
b. Uniformed services personnel shall inform new members about the automatic features of SGLI, such as the immediate insurance protection of $400,000 coverage, the cost of insurance and how premiums will be paid. (See paragraph 1.07.) The Uniformed Services shall also inform new members that the privilege of continuing group insurance coverage as VGLI and converting to an individual policy is valuable, particularly in cases where the member may not be able, for health reasons, to buy insurance after discharge or separation.
The insurance is forfeited when an insured member is guilty of mutiny, treason, spying, or desertion, or refuses, because of conscientious objections, to perform service in the Armed Forces of the United States, or refuses to wear the uniform of such force. No insurance shall be payable for death inflicted as a lawful punishment for crime or for military or naval offense except when inflicted by an enemy of the United States.
The SGLI and VGLI proceeds and Accelerated Benefit payments are not assignable. Payments of any SGLI or VGLI benefits, including Accelerated Benefits, are exempt from taxation and are not subject to claims of creditors of the insured or creditors of the beneficiary, except certain claims of the United States.
a. Public Law 89-214, effective September 29, 1965, established the Servicemens' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program. The law provided $10,000 of group life insurance for all active duty members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and the Commissioned Corps of the PHS and NOAA.
b. Public Law 91-291, effective June 25, 1970, amended the original law by increasing the maximum amount of coverage for all members to $15,000 and by extending eligibility for limited periods of coverage to additional members.
c. Public Law 92-315, effective June 20, 1972, extended coverage to cadets or midshipmen of the United States Military Academy, United States Naval Academy, United States Air Force Academy and the United States Coast Guard Academy.
d. Public Law 93-289, effective May 24, 1974, increased the maximum amount of coverage for all members to $20,000 and extended full-time SGLI coverage to members of the Ready Reserves and Retired Reserves. The new law also provided for the conversion of SGLI to a 5-year nonrenewable term policy called Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI).
e. Public Law 97-66, effective December 1, 1981, increased the maximum amount of insurance under both the SGLI and VGLI programs to $35,000.
f. Public Law 99-166, effective January 1, 1986, increased the maximum amount of coverage for all members to $50,000 and extended VGLI coverage to members of the IRR and Inactive National Guard (ING).
g. Public Law 102-25, effective April 6, 1991, increased the maximum amount of insurance for all members to $100,000, with lesser amounts available in increments of $10,000.
h. Public Law 102-568, effective December 1, 1992, increased the maximum SGLI and VGLI available to $200,000. Basic coverage remained at $100,000 and an additional $100,000 of supplemental coverage was made available to members of the uniformed services upon application. The new law also provided that VGLI in effect on or after December 1, 1992, is renewable. (See Chapter 12.)
i. Public Law 104-106, effective April 1, 1996, increased the amount of basic coverage to $200,000. Members were automatically insured for $200,000 and had to elect in writing to decline or reduce their coverage to less than $200,000. The law also granted to Secretaries of the military service departments the authority to terminate SGLI coverage when premiums are not paid.
j. Public Law 104-275, effective January 6, 1997, merged Retired Reservists SGLI into the VGLI program and extended VGLI to members of the Ready Reserves. The amendment also provided that members can convert their SGLI directly to a commercial policy of insurance and may convert VGLI to a commercial policy at any time rather than only at the end of 5-year periods. The new law also renamed the SGLI program to Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance and included a provision that requires representatives of the military services to provide general information regarding insurance and SGLI and VGLI to its members.
k. Public Law 105-368, effective February 9, 1999, established an Accelerated Benefit option for terminally-ill members insured under SGLI or VGLI. Under this option, a terminally-ill member may receive in a lump sum payment a portion of the face value of the insurance as an accelerated death benefit.
l. Public Law 106-419 increased the maximum amount of SGLI and VGLI coverage from $200,000 to $250,000 effective April 1, 2001. It also provided that members of the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR) who are subject to involuntary call-up authority will be eligible to enroll in the SGLI program.
m. Public Law 109-13 increased the maximum amount of SGLI and VGLI coverage from $250,000 to $400,000 effective September 1, 2005. It also provided for Traumatic Injury Coverage under SGLI effective December 1, 2005.
n. Public Law 109-80 made the increase in maximum SGLI and VGLI coverage to $400,000, and the change in SGLI increments to $50,000 permanent. It also provided for spousal notification of change in SGLI beneficiary and reduction or declination of coverage.
o. PL 109-163 authorized an additional SGLI death gratuity of $150,000 for the survivors of decedents who died between October 7, 2001, and May 11, 2005, and at the time of death were not eligible for the additional death gratuity for service in combat operations or zones.
PL 109-163 also authorized the payment of an allowance--by the Secretary of the appropriate branch of service-- to Servicemembers serving in OEF/OIF in an amount equal to the premium for the first $150,00 of SGLI coverage; if the member has elected to be insured for less than $150,000 of SGLI, then the amount of the allowance will equal the amount of his/her premium deduction for SGLI coverage.