Life insurance can offer critical protection from financial loss following a death. For military personnel, Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance is the easy choice for this coverage and it is unmatched in terms of affordability and the benefits it offers to our frontline heroes.
So, what is Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance? In short, SGLI is low-cost group life insurance for members of the military who meet certain criteria. For active-duty personnel, coverage is automatic and begins on the first day of your service or enlistment, with servicemembers automatically receiving the maximum $400,000 of coverage.
So, who is eligible for SGLI coverage? Eligibility for full-time SGLI coverage applies to:
- Members of the Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force, Space Force, or Coast Guard serving on active duty
- Commissioned members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS)
- Cadets or midshipmen of any of the U.S. military academies
- Members, cadets or midshipmen of the Reserve Officers Training Corps engaged in authorized training and practice cruises
- Members of the Ready Reserve or National Guard, assigned to a unit, and scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive training per year
- Volunteers in an Individual Ready Reserve mobilization category
Coverage can also extend to those in non-pay status with the Ready Reserve or National Guard who may be eligible for full-time SGLI coverage if you meet the following requirements:
- You are scheduled for 12 periods of inactive training for the year.
- You’re drilling for points rather than pay.
- You pay the SGLI premiums directly.
Applying for Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance
If you’re eligible to receive SGLI and are wondering how to apply and start coverage, there’s some good news: It’s taken care of. If you qualify for SGLI, you are automatically enrolled through your service branch on Day 1 of your service and do not need to apply for the coverage.
If you have specific questions about SGLI or would like more information about your coverage, visit your unit’s personnel office. They can offer information on your level of coverage, your beneficiaries (who you select to receive the money from your SGLI should you die), and how to make any necessary changes. You can even reduce or decline SGLI coverage.
If you have previously opted to decline or reduce your SGLI coverage and wish to restart or increase the coverage, this can be done online at the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance webpage. Just complete Form SGLV 8286, the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Election and Certificate. You can also apply online at the SGLI Online Enrollment System (SOES).
Managing SGLI Benefits
Again, qualified parties are automatically covered under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance for the maximum amount of insurance, or $400,000. And while that coverage is automatic, it is possible to reduce (and later increase) the coverage or decline it altogether.
Aside from the automatic maximum of $400,000 in coverage, SGLI coverage is available in increments of $50,000. As of 2019, SGLI premiums are 7 cents per $1,000 of insurance, regardless of age. This means that for every $50,000 increment of coverage, you’ll pay a $3 monthly premium rate up to a $24 monthly premium rate for the maximum coverage of $400,000 (see the chart below). Again, you can increase or decrease the coverage based on your need or budget in increments of $50,000. The premium is automatically taken out of your base pay along with $1 per month for Traumatic Injury Protection coverage.
These are the SGLI premium rates, effective July 1, 2019:
|Coverage amount (in U.S. $)||Monthly premium rate (in U.S. $)||TSGLI premium (in U.S. $)||Total monthly premium deduction (in U.S. $)|
Updating Beneficiaries Under SGLI
Who you elect to receive your SGLI coverage when you die could change as your career moves forward. You can add or remove beneficiaries or select one or more to share the proceeds of the policy.
Making these changes is simple and can be done online at the SGLI Online Enrollment System, or SOES:
- Go to milConnect
- Sign in
- Go to Benefits, Life Insurance SOES-SGLI Online Enrollment System.
- Once logged in, you can check your coverage and beneficiary information, plus make any necessary revisions to your coverage and policy.
Full-Time vs. Part Time SGLI Coverage
Whether or not you are eligible for a full range of SGLI coverage depends on the status of your service. Specifically, you are qualified for and receive full-time SGLI coverage while performing full-time active duty and paying premiums.
Members of the Reserves and Reserve Officer Training Corps who do not qualify for full-time coverage do qualify for part-time coverage, meaning your SGLI coverage is only applicable in specific situations while you are activated. This part-time coverage is applied while eligible members of the Reserves perform active duty or active duty for training under calls or orders specifying periods of less than 31 days. If this active duty or active duty for training under calls or orders extends beyond 31 days, you would qualify for full-time coverage.
SGLI Disability Extensions
Your SGLI coverage will automatically continue for 120 days, free of charge, from the date you separate from the military. If you are disabled when you leave the military, you may be able to keep your SGLI coverage for up to two years from the date of your separation if you meet either of the requirements listed below:
- You are totally disabled at the time of your discharge and able to work, or
- No matter your work status, you have one of the following conditions:
- Total loss of hearing in both ears.
- Loss of speech that leaves you unable to talk without the assistance from an artificial device.
- Permanent 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.
In some cases, you may qualify for an SGLI Disability Extension. You’ll need to apply for the SGLI-DE by filling out a SGLI Disability Extension Application (SGLV 8715) and submitting the form to the Office of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance address listed on the application. Approved military retirees will receive a notice 20 months after their separation date letting them know that their SGLI-DE is scheduled to end and that they have the option to pay a premium to receive Veterans’ Group Life Insurance.
Other SGLI Resources
Whether you are on active-duty or a military retiree or veteran, you may still have questions regarding your Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance coverage. There are a number of resources available for anyone looking for more information about the program.
- The SGLI Disability Extension Application (SGLV 8715) can be found and downloaded here.
- Questions about your SGLI coverage can be directed to Office of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (OSGLI) by calling 800-419-1473 or emailing [email protected]
- SGLI’s Accelerated Benefit Option allows you to receive up to 50 percent of your SGLI or VGLI benefit if you have been diagnosed as terminally ill with nine months to or less to live. You can find details about the option and the application (SGLV 8284) at this link.
- To complete a Claim for Death Benefits (SGLV 8283) when the deceased had insurance in force under SGLI or VGLI, visit this link.
- To locate the application and information in order to receive SGLI Traumatic Injury Protection Program benefits (SGLV 8600), visit this link.
Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance offers a strong measure of financial protection for family and loved ones of those who serve our country. However, if paying for your coverage is a struggle due to debt or other financial hardships, it may be time to ask for help. To receive advice that’s in your best interest from trained counselors, try contacting a nonprofit credit counseling agency like InCharge Debt Solutions. They will show you all the best options for getting your budget, finances and debt under control.
About The Author
Craig Richardson is a military veteran who started his journalism career while serving in the Navy. Following overseas deployments to the Med and Middle East, including service in Operation Desert Storm, he left for the private sector but continued with journalism. He has worked for several publishers and news organizations over nearly 30 years and continued to cover stories with ties to veterans and military affairs throughout his career.
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