VA Life Insurance Overview
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers several types of life insurance for qualifying military members and their families.
There are options for active duty service members, family members, and veterans. VA life insurance options also exist for military members and their families in the National Guard and the Reserve.
VA Life Insurance and Your Financial Needs
When choosing any life insurance option, whether through SGLI or a commercial provider, it’s important to determine your actual amount of financial need should your family need to file a claim. SGLI covers up to $500 thousand for the servicemember.
Does that amount sound like a lot to you?
It might at first. But when calculating your family’s needs for insurance purposes, you’ll want to add up how much it takes to completely pay off a mortgage, student loans, credit card debt, and to provide for future needs like college funds for children.
Part of those calculations can include determining your overall life expectancy, for which you can use an online calculator. Don’t skip this important step.
Signing Up For VA Life Insurance
In some cases, enrollment is automatic; in others (such as VSGLI) you have a limited time to apply when you leave the military or there are other qualifying events.
These requirements may be subject to change due to legislation, alterations in the program you seek, etc. Contact the VA directly to learn how to sign up for the program you need if you aren’t sure.
Related: 5 Types of Life Insurance
Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI)
SGLI is for service members only. Family members are covered under a similar option called Family Group Life Insurance.
SGLI offers benefits such as the following:
- Coverage up to $500,000, offered in $50,000 increments
- 120 days of additional coverage when you leave the military
- Extension of free coverage for up to 2 years on leaving the military for those who are totally disabled
- Part-time coverage for Reserve members
Simple Term Life Insurance. Easy, affordable, with no medical exam required!
Who Qualifies for Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)
You may be eligible for full-time SGLI coverage if you meet at least 1 of the following VA requirements.
- You’re an active-duty member of the U.S. military
- You’re a commissioned member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- You’re a commissioned officer of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS)
- You’re a cadet or midshipman at a service academy
- You’re a member, cadet, or midshipman of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC)
- You’re a member of the Ready Reserve or National Guard, assigned to a unit, and scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive training per year
- You’re in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) mobilization category
SGLI: NonPay Status in the Ready Reserve or National Guard
You may be eligible for full-time SGLI coverage if you are scheduled for 12 periods of inactive training for the year and you drill for points.
Those covered by SGLI under these circumstances are required to submit premium payments directly.
Family Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (FSGLI)
FSGLI offers up to 100,000 of coverage “not to exceed your service member’s SGLI coverage,” according to VA.gov. Children get $10,000 of free coverage.
Who Qualifies for Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI)
FSGLI is for spouses and dependent children of qualifying service members. To get FSGLI, at least one of the following must apply:
- The service member is on active duty and covered by full-time SGLI
- The service member is a member of the National Guard or Ready Reserve covered by full-time SGLI
If you are married to someone eligible for SGLI coverage, you qualify “no matter if your own status is active duty, retired, or civilian,” according to VA.gov.
Servicemembers Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI)
This insurance is meant as “short-term financial support to help eligible service members recover from a severe injury” according to the VA.
Were you injured while covered by SGLI? You may be able to file a TSGLI claim or appeal a past rejected claim. You may qualify for $25,000 to $100,000 offered as short-term financial aid to help you in the recovery phase from what the VA describes as a traumatic injury.
If you are eligible, you may use this benefit regardless if the injury happened on duty or off.
Who Qualifies for TSGLI?
If you were insured by SGLI and had an injury the VA defines as traumatic, you may be eligible for TSGLI. All the following must apply to qualify:
- You have what the VA calls a “scheduled loss,” which is the “direct result” of a traumatic injury;
- The injury happened “before midnight on the day that you left the military;”
- You experienced a “scheduled loss” within 2 years of the injury;
- You “survived for a period of not less than 7 full days from the date of the traumatic injury.”
- You served on active duty or as a Reservist, a National Guard member, on funeral-honors duty, or 1-day muster duty
Some applicants may qualify for retroactive TSGLI if the injury happened between October 7, 2001, and November 30, 2005, and meet the TSGLI qualifications above.
Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI)
You may qualify for coverage between $10,000 and $500,000 in term life insurance benefits. Your coverage is based on how much SGLI coverage you had when you left the military. VA rules allow you to increase your VGLI coverage every 5 years until you reach a $500 thousand cap. These increases are possible until you reach age 60.
Who Qualifies for VGLI
This coverage is for veterans who are of the following:
- You have SGLI and are within 1 year and 120 days of being released from an active-duty period of 31 or more days;
- You are within 1 year and 120 days of retiring or being released from the Ready Reserve or National Guard;
- You had part-time Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) in the National Guard or Reserve. You must also have “suffered an injury or disability (damage to your body or mind that makes it hard for you to do everyday tasks, including meaningful work) while on duty—including direct traveling to and from duty—that disqualified you for standard premium insurance rates;”
- You’re within 1 year and 120 days of assignment to the Individual Ready Reserve or to the Inactive National Guard (ING).
- You’re within 1 year and 120 days of being put on the Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL).
Other circumstances may also apply.
You must apply for VGLI 1 year and 120 days after leaving the military or you will be required to prove you are in good health. You have 240 days after leaving the military to qualify for this benefit.
Veterans Affairs Life Insurance (VALife)
VA Life is described as “guaranteed acceptance” whole life insurance for disabled veterans. Those who meet program requirements are “automatically approved.” This plan offers:
- Up to $40,000 in whole life insurance coverage in $10,000 increments
- Cash value accruing 2 years after applying
VA.gov says this plan does not require proof that the applicant is in good health. This program is unique because full life insurance coverage starts 2 years after you apply for VALife.
Premiums must be paid during the first two years with the following caveats:
Those covered by VALife who die during the 2-year waiting period should know the VA offers to “pay your beneficiaries the total amount you paid in premiums, plus interest.”
VA.gov adds, “If you die after the 2-year waiting period, we’ll pay your beneficiaries the full coverage amount of your policy.”
Who Qualifies For VALife
If you are 80 or younger, you qualify if you have any VA disability rating, including 0%. This means you must submit a VA claim to receive a rating. There is no time limit to apply once you have gotten a VA disability rating.
If you’re age 81 or older, you may qualify if you meet all the following:
- You applied for VA disability compensation before turning 81
- You got your service-connected disability rating after you turned 81, and
- You apply for VALife within 2 years of your disability rating
Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance (S-DVI)
S-DVI was a VA life insurance program for those with VA-rated service-connected disabilities.VA.gov says this program “stopped taking new applications after December 31, 2022,” but those already enrolled may keep their coverage.
Who Qualified for S-DVI
The Department of Veterans Affairs removed its qualifying criteria from the official site, encouraging those who need similar coverage to apply for VALife (see above).
Read more: VALife Insurance Program
Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI)
VMLI is a mortgage protection insurance offered to qualifying families of veterans “with severe service-connected disabilities” who adapted a house to make it more accessible.
This program offers insurance coverage up to a $200,000 cap.
This policy is paid directly to the lender when it is needed. VA.gov advises that these funds are never paid to a family member or survivor. The amount of coverage is equal to the amount of your mortgage but has no loan value or cash-out options.
You may be required to apply for and be approved to receive a VA Specially Adapted Housing Grant in order to receive approval for VMLI.
Learn more: VA Adapted Housing Grants: An Overview
Who Qualifies For VMLI
All of the following requirements apply. Applicants must be under age 70.
- You have a service-connected severe disability or a disability made worse by military duty.
- You received a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant
- You own the title of the home
- You have a mortgage on the home
Related: Calculate Your Life Insurance Needs
>> Getting affordable life insurance coverage with no medical exam or labs required is easy. Get a no-obligation, free consultation to determine your eligibility.
About the author
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.