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1. Health Care Benefits
2. Benefit Programs
3. Burial Benefits
4. Survivor Benefits
5. Women Veterans
6. Homeless Veterans
7. Overseas Benefits
8. Small and Disadvantaged Businesses
9. Workplace Benefits
10. Miscellaneous Programs and Benefits
11. Appeals
12. Tables
13. Important Phone Numbers
14. World Wide Web Links
15. VA Facilities

Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents
2004 Edition

Burial Benefits >>

Benefit Programs (continued)

Life Insurance

Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance | Family Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance
Veterans' Group Life Insurance | Accelerated Death Benefits for SGLI and VGLI
Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance | Veterans' Mortgage Life Insurance | Insurance Dividends
Miscellaneous Insurance Information

There are currently eight VA life insurance programs. Only four of these programs are currently open to new issues. Two of those open to new issues, the Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance and Veterans' Mortgage Life Insurance programs, are specifically designed for disabled veterans. The other two "open" programs, Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI) are administered by the Office of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (290 W. Mt. Pleasant Ave., Livingston, NJ 07039-2747, phone 1-800-419-1473) under the supervision of VA.

Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance

The following are automatically insured for $250,000 under SGLI: active-duty members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard; commissioned members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Public Health Service; cadets or midshipmen of the service academies; members, cadets and midshipmen of the ROTC while engaged in authorized training; members of the Ready Reserves; and members who volunteer for assignment to a mobilization category in the Individual Ready Reserve. Individuals may elect to be covered for a lesser amount or not to be covered at all. Part-time coverage may be provided to members of the Reserves who do not qualify for full-time coverage. Premiums are deducted automatically from an individual's pay or are collected by the individual's service branch. At the time of separation from service, SGLI can be converted to either VGLI or a commercial permanent plan through participating companies. SGLI coverage continues for 120 days after separation at no charge.

Family Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance

Family Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) is essentially a rider to SGLI coverage and provides up to a maximum of $100,000 of life insurance coverage for spouses, not to exceed the amount of SGLI the insured member has in force, and $10,000 for dependent children of members insured under the SGLI program. FSGLI is a servicemembers' benefit, and the member is the beneficiary of the policy. If a servicemember drops his or her SGLI coverage or leaves the military, the spouse's policy can be converted to a private life insurance policy within 120 days.

Veterans' Group Life Insurance

SGLI may be converted to Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI), which provides renewable five-year term coverage. VGLI is available to: (a) individuals with full-time SGLI coverage upon release from active duty or the reserves; (b) individuals with part-time SGLI coverage who incur a disability or aggravate a pre-existing disability during a reserve period which renders them uninsurable at standard premium rates; and (c) members of the Individual Ready Reserve and Inactive National Guard.

Individuals who separate from service with SGLI coverage can convert to VGLI by submitting the premium within 120 days of separating. After 121 days, the individual may be granted VGLI provided an initial premium and evidence of insurability are submitted within one year after termination of SGLI coverage. Servicemembers who are totally disabled at the time of separation are eligible for the SGLI Disability Extension of up to one year. The extension of coverage is free and continues for one year from separation or until the veteran is no longer disabled, whichever comes first. At the end of the one-year Disability Extension, the SGLI is automatically converted to VGLI without evidence of good health. VGLI is convertible at any time to a permanent plan policy with any of the commercial insurance companies that participate in the program.

Accelerated Death Benefits for SGLI and VGLI

A member insured under SGLI or VGLI program, if terminally ill (prognosis of nine months or less to live), may apply for up to 50 percent of the coverage amount in advance. Servicemembers with FSGLI coverage may also elect to receive up to 50 percent of their spouse's coverage if the spouse becomes terminally ill.

Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance

A veteran who has a service-connected disability but is otherwise in good health may apply to VA for up to $10,000 in life insurance coverage within two years from the date of the award of service connection. The veteran should be in good health except for the service-connected disabilities. This insurance is limited to veterans who left service after April 24, 1951. Veterans who are totally disabled may apply for a waiver of premiums. For those veterans who are eligible for this waiver, additional supplemental coverage of up to $20,000 is available, however, premiums cannot be waived on the additional insurance.

Veterans' Mortgage Life Insurance

VMLI is available to severely disabled veterans who receive a Specially Adapted Housing grant. Maximum coverage is $90,000. Protection is issued automatically provided that the veteran submits an application or other information required to establish a premium and does not decline coverage. Coverage automatically terminates when the mortgage is satisfied. If a mortgage is disposed of through sale of the property, VMLI may be obtained on the mortgage of another home.

Insurance Dividends

Active government life insurance policies beginning with the letters V, RS, W, J, JR, JS or K, automatically pay dividends annually on the policy anniversary date. Policyholders do not need to apply for these dividends, but may select from a number of options for how they should be handled. VA insurance dividends, and interest on dividends left on deposit or credit with VA, are not taxable. For more information, visit the VA Life Insurance Program Web page ( or contact the VA Insurance Center at 1-800-669-8477. Many policyholders may access their own policy information online at the VA Insurance Web site above.

Policyholders with National Service Life Insurance, Veterans Special Life Insurance and Veterans Reopened Insurance can use their dividends to purchase additional paid-up coverage only at the time the dividend is issued.

Persistent rumors about special SGLI or VGLI dividends and dividends for holders of lapsed policies are not true.

Miscellaneous Insurance Information

Reinstating Lapsed Insurance. Lapsed term policies may be reinstated within five years from the date of lapse. Contact the VA Insurance Center for details. A five-year term policy that is not lapsed at the end of the term period is automatically renewed for an additional five-year period. Lapsed permanent plan policies may be reinstated within certain time limits and with certain health requirements. Reinstated policies require repayment of all back premiums, plus interest.

Converting Term Policies. A term policy that is in force may be converted to a permanent plan. Upon reaching renewal at age 70 or older, National Service Life Insurance term policies on total disability premium waiver are automatically converted to permanent insurance, which provides cash and loan values and higher dividends.

Cash Value for Term Capped Policies. Since Sept. 11, 2000, policyholders of National Service Life Insurance and Veterans Special Life Insurance whose term policies are capped at renewal age 70, have cash values associated with their policies. Policyholders who voluntarily cancel their policies may either take the cash value or use it to purchase paid-up insurance.

Modified Life Policy. A "modified life at age 65" plan is available to National Service Life Insurance policyholders. The premium rates for this plan remain the same throughout the premium-payment period, while the face value reduces by 50 percent at age 65. The reduced amount may be replaced with a "special ordinary life policy." A "modified life at age 70" plan also is available.

Disability Provisions. National Service Life Insurance policyholders who become totally disabled before age 65 should consult VA about premium waivers.

Borrowing on Policies. Policyholders may borrow up to 94 percent of the cash surrender value of their insurance and continue the insurance in force by payment of premiums. Interest on policy loans is compounded annually. The current interest rate may be obtained by calling toll-free 1-800-669-8477.

For additional information about government life insurance, call the VA Insurance Center in Philadelphia toll-free, 1-800-669-8477. Specialists are available between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., Eastern Time, to discuss premium payments, insurance dividends, address changes, policy loans, naming beneficiaries and reporting the death of the insured. After hours, a caller may leave a recorded message, which will be answered on the next workday, or may use the Interactive Voice Response system.

If the insurance policy number is not known, send whatever information is available, such as the veteran's VA file number, date of birth, social security number, military serial number or military service branch and dates of service to:

Department of Veterans Affairs
Regional Office and Insurance Center
Box 42954
Philadelphia, PA 19101

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