For more than 100 years, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has offered life and disability insurance to active servicemembers and veterans. Programs offered by the VA have continued to change and improve over the years and have grown to insure more than 6 million members with a combined insured value of more than $1.3 trillion, making the VA life and disability insurance programs the 10th largest provider of such services in the United States.

Currently, the VA offers several group insurance programs:

Active and eligible members of the U.S. military are automatically enrolled in Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI). This provides up to $400,000 of coverage at the nominal cost of $28 per month, taken directly from the servicemembers pay. 

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When a servicemember separates from active duty, they can convert and enroll in the Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) program. Veterans have one year plus 120 days to enroll in the program and are covered for an amount equal to their SGLI coverage. This coverage can increase by $25,000 every five years up to the $400,000 maximum.

SGLI and VGLI policy holders who are terminally ill can take advantage of the Accelerated Death Benefit Option. Policyholders can receive a lump sum payment of up to 50 percent of the value of their coverage if they so choose.

Active duty servicemembers with Traumatic Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (TSGLI) coverage can receive an insurance payout of up to $100,000 if they sustain a service related traumatic injury. The funds generally go to offset financial burdens incurred during a period of recovery.

Spouses and dependents of servicemembers covered under SGLI can be covered under Family Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (FSGLI). Coverage can be up to $100,000 for a spouse and $10,000 for dependent children.

Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) offers coverage for qualified veterans who sustain service related disabilities. Initial policy values are $10,000 but can be increased by an additional $30,000 if the policyholder becomes totally disabled.

If a veteran passes away, the Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) provides up to $200,000 in home mortgage protection for the surviving spouse and children.

For the past several decades, the VA has also offered several individual insurance programs. These policies have a variety of options and for veterans and can often times be a source of income through cash out and loan options.

Eligible Servicemembers for SGLI Life Insurance

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers several group and individual low-cost life and disability insurance coverages for eligible servicemembers and veterans, their spouses and dependents.

This guide will introduce readers to available insurance programs enabling servicemembers and veterans to provide the financial security and peace of mind that comes from knowing their family members are protected during and after their service to the United States.

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VA Group Insurance Programs

Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI)

  • Eligible active servicemembers are automatically enrolled for $400,000 of coverage through a group policy issued by a private life insurance company. There is no need to take any enrollment steps.
  • SGLI covers the following active duty service personnel:
  • members of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard
  • Commissioned members of NOAA and the Public Health Service
  • Cadets and midshipmen of the U.S. military academies
  • ROTC cadets and midshipmen and members while in authorized training and practice cruises
  • Ready Reserves/National Guard members who perform at least 12 periods of inactive training annually
  • Individual Ready Reserve member who volunteer for a mobilization category
  • To designate beneficiaries, eligible servicemembers should complete a Form SGLV 8286, Servicemembers’Group Life Insurance Election and Certificate.
  • To change, cancel or decline SGLI coverage, servicemembers need to complete and file Form SGLV 8286, Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Election and Certificate. Coverage is available in $50,000 increments up to the $400,000 maximum.
  • Premiums are calculated at a rate of $.07 per $1,000 worth of coverage. This means that a maximum of $400,000 in SGLI coverage costs servicemembers $28 per month, regardless of the insured’s age. Servicemembers have premiums deducted from their pay.
  • SGLI ends 120 days after the servicemember separates from service, unless the veteran is eligible for a SGLI Disability Extension.
  • If a servicemember has SGLI coverage and is totally disabled at the time of separation of military service, coverage will continue as long as the servicemember is totally disabled, up to two years from the date of separation. This coverage is known as a SGLI Disability Extension.
  • Coverage under SGLI does not affect the insured’s right to collect other benefits.
  • SGLI is administered by the Office of Servicemembers Group Life Insurance. 
  • For questions on this program, contact OSGLI at:
  • Toll free phone: 1-800-418-1473 or 1-80-236-6142
  • Death and accelerated benefits claims only: 1-877-832-4943
  • By regular mail: Office of Servicemembers Group Life Insurance, 80 Livingston Avenue, Roseland, New Jersey 07068-1733.
  • When SGLI coverage ends (generally 120 days after separation from service), veterans can apply for Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI). Veterans have 240 days to do so without proving they are in good health. They also have another eight months to apply as long as they can prove they are in good health.
  • VGLI was established to provide renewable term insurance after separation from active duty for servicemembers who carried SGLI.
  • Veterans have one year plus 120 days to apply for VGLI after separation from service.
  • If application is made within 240 days after separation of service, the applicant does not need to provide evidence of good health. Servicemembers who apply for VGLI after that window must submit proof of insurability.
  • The initial amount of VGLI insurance a veteran can apply for is equal to the amount of SGLI insurance they carried under active duty. If a servicemember carried less than $400,000 maximum on active duty, they can add an additional $25,000 in coverage every five years under VGLI.
  • Veterans who are covered under the SGLI Disability Extension automatically convert to VGLI when the extension period ends.

The Accelerated Benefit Option for SGLI and VGLI policy holders

  • SGLI and VGLI policy holders who are terminally ill have the option of collecting a portion of their death benefits before they pass away. Under the terms of the Accelerated Benefit Option, they can elect to receive a lump sum payment of up to 50 percent of the value of their coverage.
  • The policy holder can elect to take a sum less than the 50 percent amount but the request must be made in $5,000 increments. 
  • Any amount not paid as part of the Accelerated Benefit Option will still be paid to the policy holder’s beneficiaries after they pass away.
  • To file for an Accelerated Benefit Option, SGLI and VGLI policy holders should file Form 8284, Servicemember/Veteran Accelerated Benefits Option. Spouses covered under Family SGLI should file Form 8284A, Servicemember Family Coverage Accelerated Benefits Option. Completed forms should be mailed to the Office of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, 80 Livingston Avenue, Roseland, New Jersey 07068-1733.
  • Active duty servicemembers who sustain a traumatic injury are entitled to an additional insurance payout between $25,000 and $100,000, depending on the nature of their loss. TSGLI helps servicemembers and their families ease short-term financial burdens by paying for costs incurred during recovery.
  • TSGLI is attached to SGLI and all servicemembers who elect to take SGLI coverage are automatically also covered by TSGLI. However, unlike SGLI, TSGLI does not extend during the 120 days following separation.
  • Premiums for TSGLI are $1 per month and are deducted from a servicemember’s pay. Reservists or National Guard members who only have part-time coverage pay a premium of $1 per year.
  • TSGLI includes payments for injuries only. It does not make payments for losses due to diseases or illnesses.
  • Payments are made for injuries that happen on or off duty. TSGLI is not limited to just combat injuries. 
  • TSGLI claims are handled by each individual branch of the military and will provide the necessary certifications for payments to the applicant.
  • TSGLI makes pre-determined payment amounts for specific kinds of losses. That schedule is listed in the TSGLI Schedule of Losses located online at http://www.benefits.va.gov/INSURANCE/tsgli_schedule_Schedule.asp
  • This benefit has been retroactively provided to servicemembers who sustained traumatic injuries between October 7, 2001 and November 30, 2005. Initially, this coverage was applied only for members who participated in Operations Enduring or Iraqi Freedom, but was later modified to include all servicemembers regardless of the location where the injury took place or whether or not coverage was in effect at the time of the injury.
  • To file a claim, applicants should complete and submit Form SGLV 8600 Application for TSGLI Benefits.
  • FSGLI provides term life insurance to the spouses and dependent children of servicemembers who are covered under SGLI.
  • Dependent children are covered at no cost while the servicemember pays the premium for their spouse.
  • Coverage can be up to $100,000 for spouses and $10,000 for dependent children.
  • If your spouse is not a member of the U.S. armed forces, they are automatically covered for the maximum amount unless you reduce or cancel coverage.
  • Coverage is available in $10,000 increments for your spouse, and premiums increase as your spouse gets older. Coverage for your children is free until they turn 18, unless they are a full-time student or become totally disabled.
  • Spousal Monthly Premium Rates
Amount of Insurance
Age of Spouse
under 35
35-39
40-44
45-49
50-54
55-59
60 & over
$100,000
$5.00
$6.50
$8.50
$13.00
$25.00
$37.00
$50.00
$90,000
$4.50
$5.85
$7.65
$11.70
$22.50
33.30
$45.00
$80,000
$4.00
$5.20
$6.80
$10.40
$20.00
$29.60
$40.00
$70,000
$3.50
$4.55
$5.95
$9.10
$17.50
$25.90
$35.00
$60,000
$3.00
$3.90
$5.10
$7.80
$15.00
$22.20
$30.00
$50,000
$2.50
$3.25
$4.25
$6.50
$12.50
$18.50
$25.00
$40,000
$2.00
$2.60
$3.40
$5.20
$10.00
$14.80
$20.00
$30,000
$1.50
$1.95
$2.55
$3.90
$7.50
$11.10
$15.00
$20,000
$1.00
$1.30
$1.70
$2.60
$5.00
$7.40
$10.00
$10,000
$0.50
$0.65
$0.85
$1.30
$2.50
$3.70
$5.00
  • Spouses do have the option to convert to an individual policy of insurance within 120 days of the servicemember separating from service, divorce from the servicemember, if the servicemember decides to cancel SGLI coverage for their spouse, or 120 days from the date the servicemember passes away.
  • To apply, reduce or decline coverage for a spouse under FSGLI, complete Form 8286A and submit it to your branch of the military for processing.

Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI)

  • S-DVI provides insurance for qualified veterans with service related disabilities.
  • Polices are issued for a maximum face value of $10,000 and can include permanent or term insurance plans. Insurance can be purchased in $500 increments.
  • For totally disabled veterans, a waiver of premiums may be available.
  • The Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010 offers up to an additional $30,000 of supplemental S-DVI if a policyholder carries basic S-DVI and becomes eligible to have their premiums waived due to total disability. 
  • To apply, complete and submit Form 29-4364, Application for Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance

Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI)

  • VMLI protects the mortgage of severely disabled veterans who have been approved for a Specially Adapted Housing Grant. The insurance pays off the mortgage if the veterans passes away.
  • VMLI is available up to $200,000 in coverage and the payable only to the mortgage holder, such as a bank or other similar lender. The actual amount of coverage is equal to the amount of the mortgage still owed on the property.
  • VMLI decreases as the mortgage amount of the veteran’s home decreases.
  • The amount of the premium a veteran will pay can be determined by using the VA’s VLMI Premium Calculator, located here https://insurance.va.gov/VMLICalc/VMLICalc.asp
  • At the time a veteran receives a Specially Adapted Housing Grant, they will be advised that VMLI is available. An agent will work with the veteran to complete Form 29-8636, Application for Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance.

VA Individual Insurance Programs

In addition to the VA group insurance policies, there are several other individual term insurance policies that the VA has issued over the past several decades. Those policies are identified with special prefix letter designations as follows:

United States Government Life Insurance (“K”) – dating back to WWI, this program was implemented because commercial insurance companies excluded protection against war or made premium unaffordable. The program was closed to new policy issues in 1951.

National Service Life Insurance (“V”) – this program was created to meet the insurance needs of WWII service personnel. Over 22 million policies were issued until the program stopped issuing new ones in 1951. 

Veterans’ Special Life Insurance (“RS” and “W”)  - established in 1951 to meet the needs of Korean War service personnel, , active duty members were offered $10,000 of free insurance. New policies stopped being issued in 1956.

Veterans’ Reopened Insurance (“J,” “JR” and “JS”) - In 1964, Congress allowed disabled veterans to apply for government life insurance under the NSLI and VSLI programs if they were eligible to do so between 1940 and 1956.

These policies pay dividends that can create flexibility for veterans in how they want those dividends applied. 

  • Cash: paid to a policyholder or deposited into their bank account.
  • Credit: held in an account and can be used to prevent a policy lapse, as a refund at any time or is paid to beneficiaries upon the insured’s death.
  • Premium: can be used to pay premiums
  • Loan: applied toward a loan or lien

The amount of the dividend will depend on the age of the veteran, the type of insurance and how long it has been in force.

From the plans above, the VA designed several current insurance policy options that are available to some or all of the individual plan holders:

Ordinary Life

Available on all programs.

Premiums are constant and payable for the policyholder’s lifetime.

The policy earns cash and loan values.

Five Year Level Premium Term

Available on all programs except "J," "JR," "JS".

Can be renewed every five years or converted to a permanent plan.

Offers no cash or loan values.

Insurance terminates when premiums stop being paid.

Best for providing insurance protection at younger ages. Premiums bump up significantly as policyholders grow older.

Modified Life at Age 65

Available on all programs except "K".

Policy must be purchased before the insured turns age 61.

Offers permanent insurance at a cost lower than Ordinary Life.

The face value of the policy is reduced by half the day before the insured turns 65. It can be replaced with an Ordinary Life policy at an added premium if the application is submitted prior to the policyholder’s 65th birthday.

Earns cash and loan values.

Modified Life at Age 70

Available on all programs except "K".

Policy must be purchased before the insured turns age 69.

Offers permanent insurance at a cost lower than Ordinary Life.

The face value of the policy is reduced by half the day before the insured turns 70. It can be replaced with an Ordinary Life policy at an added premium if the application is submitted prior to the policyholder’s 70th birthday.

Earns cash and loan values.

Special Ordinary Life

This is the policy that is purchased with the Modified Life at Age 65 and Modified Life at Age 70 values are reduced at the insured’s 65th or 70th birthday.

Available on all programs except "K"

Premiums never increase and are payable for the policyholder’s lifetime.

Earns cash and loan values

30 Payment Life

Available on all programs.

Slightly higher premiums than Ordinary Life that are payable for 30 years.

Earns cash and loan values.

20 Payment Life

Available on all programs.

Slightly higher premiums than 30 Payment Life that are payable for 20 years.

Earns cash and loan values.

20 Year Endowment

Available on all programs.

Premiums are paid for 20 years.

The face value of the policy is paid back to the policyholder at the end of the 20 year period either in a lump sum or in installments.

Earns cash and loan values.

Endowment at Age 60

Available on all programs except "K".

Face amount of the policy is paid on the anniversary date nearest the policyholders 60th birthday.

Earns cash and loan values.

Endowment at Age 65

Available on all programs except "K".

Face amount of the policy is paid on the anniversary date nearest the policyholders 60th birthday.

Earns cash and loan values.

Endowment at Age 96

Available to 65 or older "K" policyholders, who were still insured under a term plan

Provides level premiums from the issue date with an endowment that matures at age 96.

Premium waivers can be purchased for an additional premium at the time the existing term insurance was exchanged.

 

Dividend Payment Options

Dividend Option
How it Works
Use Dividend to Pay Your Annual Premium
This dividend option automatically applies your annual dividend toward your annual policy premium. If your dividend is less than your annual premium, you will receive a bill for the difference. If your dividend exceeds your policy's annual premium, the excess dividend can be:
  • paid to you in cash,
used to purchase paid-up additional insurance, or
paid against a policy loan or lien if you have one.
Buy Paid-Up Additional Insurance
This option allows you to use your dividends to purchase additional paid-up insurance, thereby increasing the amount of insurance you have in-force. The insurance purchased with your dividends is in addition to your basic coverage and can be purchased at any age.
You can accumulate a substantial amount of paid-up additional insurance coverage over a period of years because you earn dividends on both your basic coverage and the paid-up additions themselves.
This option is available on all policies except those with a policy number beginning with the letter K. The paid-up additions you purchase will:
  • Provide additional protection for your beneficiaries
  • Have cash and loan values
  • Earn dividends
  • Not require payment of premiums
Leave Dividends in an Account That Earns Interest and Protects Your Policy Against Lapse
This option allows you to keep your dividend in a credit account which earns interest. These interest earnings are not taxable. You may withdraw money from the credit account at any time by either calling our toll-free number 1-800-669-8477 or requesting the withdrawal in writing.
Another feature of this option is that if you forget to send us your premium payment, we will automatically withdraw enough money from your credit account to pay one month's premium. You will be notified when premiums are withdrawn from your account. Interest earned on the account changes annually and is dependent on the particular insurance program. Interest earned is not taxable.
The 2007 rates are as follows:
National Service Life Insurance - 5.50%
U S Government Life Insurance - 5.25%
Veterans' Special Life Insurance - 6.50%
Veterans' Reopened Insurance - 5.75%
Leave Dividends in an Account That Earns Interest
This option is similar to the dividend credit option, except that it is not available to term insurance policyholders. Also, if you fail to pay premiums, we will not automatically withdraw a monthly premium from your deposit account.
Withdrawals from your deposit account must be authorized by calling our toll-free number or by writing to us. Interest earned is not taxable.
Repay a Loan or Lien
If you have a loan or lien against your policy, you may select this option to reduce the amount owed.
Pay Premiums as far in Advance as Possible
Your dividend is used to pay premiums in advance as far as the amount will allow.
This option is not available if premiums are being paid automatically by allotment from retired pay, by deduction from VA compensation or pension or by checking account deduction (VAMATIC).
Receive Dividends in Cash
On your policy anniversary date, you will receive your dividend via either a U.S. Treasury check or a direct deposit of funds into your bank account.

Who to Contact

For more information on VA life insurance programs, visit VA.gov Insurance Program

For general insurance questions, contact Veterans Affairs Insurance Center at

1-800-669-8477 from 8:30 am to 6 pm EST. To better assist you, please have as much information as possible about your policy ready including the policy number, your VA file number, date of birth, Social Security number, military serial number and dates of service.

To contact the VA by mail for insurance related issues, send correspondence to:

Department of Veterans Affairs Insurance Center
PO Box 42954
Philadelphia, PA 19101