KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Death; it’s the one certainty in this life that eventually happen to all of us, but few of us like to think about. But, we should.
Lt. Col. Maurleen Cobb, 403rd Wing Judge Advocate, has seen what can happen when people don’t think about it and don’t plan, such as when an Airman’s Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance is paid out to an ex-spouse versus a current spouse or a previous girlfriend or boyfriend versus their children or parents, because that member didn’t update their beneficiary list when they had a major life changing event.
“Make sure your life insurance is going to who you want it to go to and if you have questions about the process, contact JA or the 403rd Force Support Squadron, who can assist you,” she said.
For Airmen and fellow servicemembers, they have the option to sign up for SGLI, a low cost group life insurance for members of the active duty, Reserve, National Guard and Air Force Academy and ROTC. They can get up to $400,000 in coverage for 6 cents per $1,000 a month, but can elect to be insured for lesser amounts. This amount is taken out monthly, however, with COVID-19 impacting the 403rd Wing’s Unit Training Assembly schedule, some 403rd Wing reservists who excused or rescheduled a UTA may have incurred a debt, which would have been taken out of their next paycheck.
Prior to 2017, service members filled out a paper form. Today, members now apply for coverage through an online enrollment system accessible at the MilConnect portal, https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect, under the benefits tab at the top of the screen and then under life insurance.
Everyone should recertify this form annually, typically during their birth month or as life changes occur, such as a marriage, divorce or birth of a child, said Chief Master Sgt. David Paladino, 403rd Force Support Squadron superintendent.
“Whoever is designated as the beneficiary, either online or on the SGLV 8286 form, is who will receive your life insurance as this is the only official system of record,” he said. “And, when members go in to certify their SGLI beneficiaries they need to make sure they print and save the certificate and confirm and certify the form online.”
According to Paladino, as of July, 2020, only 23% of wing has certified their SGLI through the online system since 2017. He added that this doesn’t mean only a quarter of the wing has life insurance because the paper enrollment forms, SGLV 8286, are still valid for those who have them on record.
SGLI doesn’t just benefit family members or loved ones after an Airman’s death. It can also assist during a traumatic injury or during a terminal illness diagnosis, said Paladino.
Traumatic Injury SGLI provides short-term financial support to help eligible service members recover from a severe injury on or off duty. It applies to the member only and is automatically covered if the member has SGLI coverage.
The Accelerated Benefits Option allows covered members who are terminally ill with a life expectancy of nine months or less, certified by a physician, to receive up to 50% of the face value of the policy.
“Losing a loved one or dealing with a traumatic injury or terminal illness is always a difficult time,” said Cobb. “Life events can be unexpected and we never really know what tomorrow will bring, so making sure your beneficiary information updated now is one small action that may make things easier for you and your family members later.”