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$400,000 of SGLI coverage starts


ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. - Four hundred thousand dollars of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance automatically went into effect for everyone in the U.S. military Thursday.

If people don't want the maximum SGLI coverage, they will have to change it in writing, even if they opted for much less or none in the past. The current maximum coverage is $250,000.

In addition, a new law now requires the services to tell spouses if servicemembers designate a primary beneficiary other than their current lawful spouse, or they turn down SGLI coverage or reduce it.

To change insurance amounts or who gets it, Airmen need to visit their unit's commander support staff or military personnel flight to fill out a SGLV Form 8286. If deployed, their personnel for contingency operation team can help.

SGLI coverage still runs 6.5 cents per month for $1,000 of insurance, but the increments of coverage change from $10,000 to $50,000. If people take no action, the monthly maximum premium automatically goes from $16.25 to $26. Airmen can avoid the increase if they turn in a form before Sept. 30.

This change does not affect coverage of family members under the Family Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance.

Veterans can opt for more coverage under Veteran Group Life Insurance if they are covered by SGLI before separating from the service.

The increased SGLI coverage becomes retroactive to Oct. 7, 2001, for survivors of servicemembers who died in a combat zone, combat operations or combat-related situations. If death occurs between Oct. 7, 2001, and Sept. 1, 2005, survivors receive $150,000 in transitional insurance, bringing the total maximum coverage to $400,000.

In addition, the U.S. military's death gratuity benefit increased from $12,500 to $100,000 effective May 11. It too is retroactive to Oct. 7, 2001. This means that survivors of servicemembers who died between Oct. 7, 2001, and May 11, 2005, receive the increased benefits, said Col. Virginia Penrod, director of military compensation.

The increased benefits are for survivors of servicemembers who die in combat zones, combat operations and combat-related situations, she said. Combat-related situations include airborne duty, combat training, demolition duty and training exercises.

A policy designating combat areas and situations was given to the service departments in June, and each service is now reviewing cases. Payments already have begun, but the process of identifying and paying eligible survivors could take several months, the colonel said.

The increases in SGLI coverage and the death gratuity benefit came about as a result of a 2004 study evaluating the adequacy of death benefits for servicemembers. The study found that benefits were adequate but did not recognize the unique sacrifice made by servicemembers who die in combat situations, Colonel Penrod said.

(AFRC News Service from American Forces Press Service)



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