JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) is a program that provides low-cost term life insurance coverage to eligible servicemembers. Practically, a servicemember should realize that life insurance insulates dependents and beneficiaries from financial risk in the event of that servicemember's death. Members complete form SGLV 8286, Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Election and Certificate, upon entering the service. All SGLI forms can be downloaded on the Veteran Affairs website or obtained at a Force Support Squadron.
Members are automatically insured under full-time SGLI if they are considered one of the following:
1) Active duty member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard;
2) Commissioned member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS);
3) Cadet or midshipman of the U.S. military academies;
4) Member, cadet, or midshipman of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) engaged in authorized training and practice cruises;
5) Member of the Ready Reserve or National Guard and are scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive training per year; and
6) Servicemember who volunteers for a mobilization category in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)
Eligible members should select the coverage based on their individual circumstances. Coverage is available in $50,000 increments up to the maximum of $400,000. Costs hinge on the amount of insurance only. Covered members receive 120 days of free coverage from their date of separation. Coverage can be extended for up to two years if the Servicemember is totally disabled at separation.
While many servicemembers understand the important benefits SGLI can offer, many do not understand the option and process to obtain Family SGLI (FSGLI). FSGLI coverage provides life insurance coverage for the spouses and dependent children of all Servicemembers (Active Duty, Ready Reserve, and National Guard) who have full-time SGLI coverage. Rates vary depending on the amount of coverage as well as the spouse's age. For example, a spouse under the age of 35 can be insured for the maximum $100,000 for $5 per month. If a servicemember's spouse is not a military member, then the spouse is automatically covered for the maximum spouse coverage unless the servicemember reduces or cancels the coverage. FSGLI spouse coverage is not automatic for Servicemembers who married other Servicemembers on or after 2 January 2013. Servicemembers who fall into this category will have to apply for coverage using form SGLV 8286A, Spouse Coverage Election and Certificate.
Beyond a servicemember's spouse, FSGLI also provides coverage to dependent children. Coverage for a child is provided at no cost until the child is 18, unless the child is a full-time student or becomes permanently and totally disabled and is incapable of self-support prior to age 18. "Dependent child" includes any unmarried child in one of the following categories:
1) Natural born child;
2) Legally adopted child;
3) Stepchild who is a member of the Servicemember's household;
4) Child who became permanently incapable of self-support before age 18; and
5) Still born child whose death occurs before expulsion, extraction, or delivery, and not for the purposes of abortion, and:
a. Whose fetal weight is 350 grams or more; or
b. If the fetal weight is unknown, whose duration in utero was 20 or more completed weeks of gestation, calculated from the date the last normal menstrual period began to the date of expulsion, extraction, or delivery.
Each "dependent child" is insured for $10,000.
Many servicemembers with FSGLI are unaware of the "fetal coverage" and the process to file a claim for a stillborn child. In the United States, it's estimated that about 1 million fetal deaths occur each year, including almost 26,000 at 20 weeks of gestation or more according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Given these large numbers, there are, undoubtedly, servicemembers who likely have suffered this type of loss. Notwithstanding the loss of a child, these families have had to pay burial and other related costs. Navigating the claims process can be stressful, but our office can help you. Claims may be filed for only deaths after October 2008.
Filing a claim requires close coordination with the Casualty Office at a Force Support Squadron. Hospitals in most states issue death certificates for stillborn children, which can be used to support your claim. If you live in an area that does not issue a death certificate, the family can request a copy of the state's "fetal death record." Some claims, however, have been paid upon the submission of a statement signed by a doctor on official letterhead with the baby's weight, age, name, mother's name, and the circumstances of death. The Casualty Office will submit form SGLV 8700, Report of Death of Family Member, a copy of the death certificate, and SGLV 8286A, Spouse Coverage Election and Certificate, to the Office of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance. Claims are then examined and approved on a case-by-case basis expeditiously.
This article is not intended to replace seeking legal advice from an attorney. Legal assistance is provided at the Air Base by appointment on Tuesdays from 1200-1500 and on Thursdays by appointment from 0800-1000. Legal Assistance is available at the Naval Weapons Station on a walk-in basis Mondays from 0800-1100 (please arrive by 1030) and on Fridays by appointment in Building 206 at the WS from 0800-1100. Please call 843-963-5502 or 843-794-7500 to schedule all appointments.