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Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI)

September 1, 2023

Life in the armed forces comes with a unique set of rewards and challenges. While the call of duty is noble, it also means being regularly exposed to situations that underscore the importance of financial protection for oneself and loved ones.

Recognizing the distinct needs of its servicemembers, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs introduced the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI). This program offers vital life insurance coverage tailored specifically for those who serve and defend our nation. But what exactly does SGLI cover? How does one enroll, and what are the nuances that set it apart from conventional life insurance plans?

Our detailed guide aims to answer these questions and more, offering a panoramic view of SGLI. Whether you're an active servicemember, a veteran, a dependent, or simply someone aiming to grasp the full spectrum of benefits the military community is entitled to, this guide will provide a clear and thorough understanding of this pivotal insurance program.

Program Contact1-877-222-8388
Additional InfoServicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Form
Managing AgencyU.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Understanding the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)

At its core, SGLI is not just an insurance policy, but a promise. It is a low-cost term insurance meticulously designed for the brave individuals who serve in the various branches of the military. This comprehensive coverage is more than just a safety net; it's a beacon of support that illuminates the path ahead for those who risk their lives to defend our freedoms.

With the backing of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and a collaboration with commercial life insurance companies, SGLI offers coverage that resonates with the dedication and sacrifice of service members. The policy is available in increments, ranging from $50,000 to a maximum of $400,000. Remarkably, servicemembers are automatically enrolled in SGLI, assuring them of the highest coverage of $400,000, unless they opt for a different coverage amount or choose to decline coverage altogether.

The commitment to those who serve extends beyond active duty. As servicemembers transition out of service, they're presented with two invaluable options. They can seamlessly convert their SGLI coverage to either renewable term insurance under the Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI) program, ensuring that protection remains constant, or opt for a permanent plan of insurance in collaboration with reputable commercial insurance companies.

Key Highlights of the SGLI Benefits

1. Low-Cost Term Insurance

SGLI offers low-cost term insurance specifically tailored for individuals serving in the uniformed services. This means that service members can obtain substantial life insurance coverage at a remarkably affordable rate, providing financial protection for their loved ones.

2. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Backing

SGLI is not just any insurance policy; it's a testament to the government's commitment to those who serve. Administered by the VA, SGLI is backed by the trusted resources of the federal government, ensuring the highest level of reliability and support.

3. Flexible Coverage

SGLI coverage is available in increments of $50,000, up to a maximum of $400,000. This flexibility allows service members to choose the coverage amount that best suits their individual circumstances and the needs of their families.

4. Automatic Enrollment

Upon eligibility, service members are automatically enrolled in SGLI, ensuring that coverage begins without the need for complex paperwork or prolonged processes. This automatic enrollment guarantees immediate protection and peace of mind for service members and their families.

5. Maximum Coverage

Unless they choose otherwise, service members are automatically insured for the maximum coverage amount of $400,000. This high level of coverage ensures that families are adequately protected in the event of an unfortunate loss.

6. Options Upon Release from Service

SGLI members are presented with valuable choices when they transition out of service. They can either convert their full-time SGLI coverage to renewable term insurance under the Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI) program or opt for a permanent plan of insurance with reputable commercial insurance companies. These options ensure continued coverage beyond active duty.

7. Comprehensive Eligibility

SGLI is open to a wide range of individuals serving in different branches and areas of the military. From the Army to the Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to the U.S. Public Health Service, and beyond, the program encompasses various dedicated service members.

Eligibility Requirements

Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) stands as a vital safety net for members of the uniformed services and their families. To qualify for this invaluable coverage, certain eligibility criteria must be met. Below, we delve into the eligibility requirements in detail:

Military Affiliation

SGLI is exclusively designed for individuals currently serving in the military across various branches and areas. The eligible categories include:

  • Commissioned, warrant, and enlisted members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Space Force.

  • Commissioned members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Public Health Service.

  • Cadets or Midshipmen of the four United States Service Academies (excluding Sailors enrolled in the United States Merchant Marine Academy).

  • Ready Reservists and National Guard members assigned to a unit and scheduled to complete a minimum of 12 periods of inactive training per year.

  • Members of the Individual Ready Reserves who volunteer for assignment to a mobilization category.

  • Part-time coverage is available for eligible members of the Reserves and Reserve Officer Training Corps who do not qualify for full-time coverage.

Automatic Coverage

Eligible individuals are automatically covered under SGLI, ensuring immediate protection upon meeting the eligibility criteria. The automatic enrollment process streamlines access to this crucial coverage, removing the need for additional applications.

Full-Time and Part-Time Coverage

The program recognizes the unique circumstances of service members, including those who serve part-time in the Reserves or Reserve Officer Training Corps. Part-time coverage is tailored to ensure that these individuals can still access vital insurance benefits.

Reduction or Decline of Coverage

Eligible service members are automatically insured for the maximum coverage amount of $400,000 unless they choose to decline coverage or elect a reduced amount. This flexibility empowers service members to align coverage with their personal preferences and needs.

Transition Options

As service members transition out of active duty, SGLI provides valuable options. They can choose to convert their full-time SGLI coverage to renewable term insurance through the Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI) program. Alternatively, they can explore a permanent plan of insurance in collaboration with reputable commercial insurance companies.

Application Process

Applying for Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) is designed to be straightforward and accessible, ensuring that eligible service members can quickly secure the financial protection they deserve. Here's a detailed guide to the application process:

Step 1: Automatic Enrollment

The SGLI program offers automatic enrollment to eligible service members, removing the need for an initial application. This means that upon meeting the eligibility criteria, service members are automatically covered under SGLI. This immediate coverage guarantees peace of mind for both the servicemember and their family.

Step 2: Initial Decision and Adjustment

Upon entering the eligible categories, service members are automatically insured for the maximum coverage amount of $400,000 unless they choose to decline coverage or opt for a reduced amount. This initial decision can be adjusted later if desired.

Step 3: Coverage Adjustments

For service members who have previously declined or reduced their SGLI coverage and wish to change their coverage amount, the process is designed to be accommodating:

Step 4: Application Submission

Alternatively, the SGLI Online Enrollment System (SOES) website provides a convenient online platform for adjusting your coverage. This system allows for streamlined updates to your coverage preferences.

If you wish to obtain or increase your coverage, you can access Form SGLV 8286, also known as "Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Election and Certificate." This form can be completed with your updated coverage preferences.

Step 5: Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI) Conversion

When transitioning out of active service, SGLI members have the option to convert their full-time SGLI coverage to renewable term insurance through the Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI) program. This process ensures that coverage continues post-service, providing a seamless transition to civilian life.

Step 6: Permanent Plan of Insurance

Another post-service option is to explore a permanent plan of insurance in collaboration with participating commercial insurance companies. This choice provides the flexibility to tailor coverage to individual needs beyond active duty.

Additional Contact Resources

For additional guidance or inquiries, service members can utilize the resources provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The official VA website, www.va.gov, serves as a comprehensive source of information on benefits and services. It's a one-stop platform where veterans, service members, and their families can access self-service transactions, check benefit statuses, and obtain important documents like military records (DD214).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI)?

SGLI is a program that offers low-cost term insurance designed for members of the uniformed services. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) purchases a group life insurance policy from a commercial life insurance company to provide coverage.

2. What if I have more questions?

For further information and answers, refer to the "Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance" section on the official VA website. You can also explore the resources available on the Benefits.gov website for additional information.

3. Can I check my eligibility for this benefit?

Certainly, you can determine your eligibility for Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance and other benefits by using the Benefit Finder questionnaire on the BENEFITS.GOV website.


Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) stands as a crucial and valuable benefit designed to provide financial security for those who serve in the uniformed services. With its low-cost term insurance coverage, SGLI offers a safety net that ensures service members' well-being and that of their families. Eligible members across various branches and categories are automatically enrolled for coverage up to $400,000, unless they choose otherwise. 

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Michael Blair contributes his expertise to help veterans access government benefits and resources. Through his informative articles and guides, he plays a vital role in empowering veterans and improving their quality of life.
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