Men in military life get their fill of acronyms. You have everything from AAAA, the Army Aviation Association of America, to USAJFKSWCS DFac (you’ll have to wait until the end to find out about that one). In between, you have an important acronym, SGLI, which stands for Servicemembers Group Life Insurance.
Virginia courts may compel a servicemember (male or female) to carry SGLI so that, in the event of the servicemember’s death, benefits continue to be paid to her or his survivors.
Say you and your spouse divorce, with three children from the marriage. She is a Weather Officer in the Air Force. Part of the Virginia judge’s divorce decree includes the requirement that she carry SGLI so that, should she die, the three children will be protected. This could be in force whether she is the custodial parent or not, and whether she receives or pays child support.
How SGLI Works
SGLI is the same kind of term life insurance that is available to civilians. Term insurance is the least expensive form of life insurance, since it is highly calibrated (and adjusted) to the insured’s age and occupation. Unlike other insurance instruments, a term policy builds no value, it has no surrender value, and it ends when the premiums are no longer paid.
SGLI, according to the Veterans Administration, is automatically provided at the maximum value to all eligible servicemembers. You do not need to apply; it is another benefit of being a servicemember.
You can, though, make changes to the coverage. The default value is $400,000, but it can be trimmed down to as little as $50,000 (in $50,000 increments) or eliminated altogether.
How Much Does SGLI Cost?
SGLI is extremely inexpensive and is a valuable benefit to your survivors. For $25 a month, you ensure that your beneficiaries receive $400,000 in the event of your death, and you buy Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI). TSGLI offers short-term benefits to support servicemembers seriously injured either in the line of duty or while off duty.
A typical add-on to SGLI is FSGLI, or Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance. The non-military spouse, and your children, can be insured at very reasonable costs:
- $100,000 of coverage for the non-military spouse starting at $4.50 a month
- $10,000 of coverage for the child of a servicemember is built into SGLI premiums
By any measure against commercially available term policies, SGLI, TSGLI and FSGLI are all real bargains. They are also valuable assets.
Divorce Changes SGLI and FSGLI
As we mentioned, a Virginia judge may require a divorcing servicemember to maintain SGLI with the ex-spouse as beneficiary. This replaces spousal support payments in the event of your death.
If you are not required to carry SGLI insurance on yourself with your ex-wife or children as beneficiaries, you can cancel SGLI insurance after divorce.
SGLI can also be converted to a commercial policy after divorce, with concommitant changes to beneficiaries when you convert it. This way, you cannot be denied and you can shift the beneficiaries from your ex-wife to your children.
FSGLI automatically terminates after a divorce. You would receive no benefit from her demise, nor should you, since she is no longer your spouse. Even with the loss of FSGLI on your ex-spouse, coverage on your children can continue, so long as the servicemember maintains SGLI.
With FSGLI and before the divorce is final, you as the servicemember can:
- Reduce the coverage amount, lowering the death benefit on your ex-wife down to as little as $50,000
- Decline coverage
- Cancel coverage
Should a servicemember cancel SGLI, all related protections also end (TSGLI and FSGLI). This may leave you, after a divorce, with no insurance on your children. Unpleasant as this sounds, “life insurance” on children is really, in practical terms, burial insurance. It provides $10,000, sufficient to defray the costs of a funeral.
Consult Experienced Men’s Advocates
With the many facets of SGLI, TSGLI and FSGLI, and its real value as an asset in a marriage, you need to think carefully before making any changes to your insurance coverage. Consult with a qualified family law attorney before negotiating away important cash benefits, before changing beneficiaries, or before acceding to your ex-wife’s wishes.
Oh, and USAJFKSWCS DFac? That, of course, is the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School Dining Facility, located in Building D-3624 at Fort Bragg. Good thing they don’t have to advertise on billboards.
Divorce in a military family can be messy and confusing. Turn to the experienced family law attorneys at The Firm For Men. Contact us online or telephone us at our Virginia Beach offices, 757-383-9184. We can help make sense of SGLI, VGLI, FSGLI, and TSGLI. We can meet with you PDQ, treat you with TLC, and off you the help you need ASAP.