SGLI is an acronym that stands for Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance. This insurance is a low-cost insurance option provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The federal government purchases group life insurance from “a commercial life insurance company” according to the VA official site. Service members can choose coverage in $50 thousand increments with a maximum benefit of $400 thousand payable to the beneficiaries the servicemember specifies at signup time.
Is SGLI Free?
No, SGLI is NOT free. It is offered at a low cost. The VA official site reminds us, “if you have SGLI coverage, you’ll pay a monthly premium that’ll be automatically taken out of your base pay.” How much? In 2022 the “basic” SGLI premium was charged at a rate of six cents per $1,000 of coverage plus an additional one dollar per month for additional Traumatic Injury Coverage.
In 2022, those who elected the maximum SGLI coverage of $400,000 paid $25 per month. These numbers are always subject to change, and the 2022 amounts are provided as a reference only. Check with the VA for the most current rates and terms.
Who is eligible for Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)?
SGLI is offered to the service member only. Family members are not eligible for this coverage. To qualify for SGLI as a service member, you must serve in one of the following ways:
- As a commissioned, warrant, or enlisted member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard
- As a commissioned member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Public Health Service
- As a Cadet or midshipman at one of four United States Service Academies
- As a Ready Reservists scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive training per year
- As part of the Individual Ready Reserve as a volunteer for assignment to a mobilization category
- Part-time coverage is available for qualifying Reserve or ROTC members “who do not qualify for full-time coverage” according to the VA official site.
How To Sign Up For SGLI
The headline above is disingenuous; when you enlist or accept a commission you are automatically enrolled in SGLI for the maximum amount ($400 thousand) unless you choose to reduce the amount of coverage or decline it altogether. If you previously declined or reduced coverage but later changed your mind, you will need to visit the SGLI Online Enrollment System available via Milconnect. Select the Benefits tab and choose Life Insurance. You will need to complete Form SGLV 8286, Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Election and Certificate.
Making An SGLI Claim
No one wants to think about the need to make an SGLI claim, but in the event that a policyholder dies or is the victim of a traumatic injury, there are forms that should be completed and submitted in order for the family to make a claim depending on the circumstances of that claim:
- To receive advance SLGI payments for a terminally ill service member: the family should file an SGLV 8284, Claim for Accelerated Benefits.
- To receive an insurance payment after a service member has died, a family member Should file an SGLV 8283, Claim for Death Benefits.
- To help a service member get short-term financial support while recovering from a traumatic injury, a family member and the service member would file SGLV 8600, Application for TSGLI Benefits.
SGLI After Military Service Ends?
You cannot continue to carry SGLI after retiring or separating except under specific circumstances. There is an opinion to convert SGLI to a different type of life insurance policy which we will cover below, but what about the exceptions?
For those who have a qualifying disability, an extension of SGLI for up to two years after military service may be possible. This extension is not automatic and must be applied for. At least one of the below must apply:
- You’re totally disabled at the time of your discharge;
- You have experienced a total loss of hearing in both ears
- You have experienced a loss of speech that leaves you unable to talk without the help of an artificial device
- You have experienced a long-lasting loss of use of both of your hands, feet, or eyes, or one hand and one foot, or one hand or foot and one eye
At least one of the above must apply to qualify for an SGLI extension. Otherwise, servicemembers have two choices when they retire or separate. SGLI coverage may be converted to Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) or choose to take on a different insurance option with a participating life insurance provider.
Contact the Office of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (OSGLI) for additional information: 1-800-419-1473 (inside the U.S.) or 973-548-5699 (overseas)
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.