Jim Absher is a Military.com benefits columnist.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has unveiled a new life insurance program for veterans, beginning Jan. 1, 2023. This program, announced Wednesday, is known as VALife and will be available to all veterans who are 80 years old or younger with a service-connected disability. The VA says its insurance will be available for a lower cost than similar civilian options.
In a press release, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said: "All Veterans deserve to know that their families will have financial support when they pass away. VALife is a critical step toward making that goal a reality, helping VA provide more life insurance to more Veterans than ever before in our nation's history."
What Is VALife?
The VALife program will offer up to $40,000 of whole life insurance for all veterans under 80 who have service-connected disabilities of at least zero percent. Acceptance in the program is guaranteed, with no medical examination required.
The VALife program is a whole life policy, veterans must pay premiums to purchase a policy, and payouts are limited during the first two years it is in effect.
The new insurance policy was created by a bill signed into law in January 2021 called the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act. The start date, eligibility criteria and coverage amounts were all stipulated in the law.
Who Is Eligible for VALIfe?
All disabled veterans, age 80 or under, are eligible to apply for the VALife program at any time. Those aged 81 or older must apply within two years of a new disability rating. Veterans with a zero percent disability or above are eligible for the program.
Veterans currently enrolled in the Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) program may either keep their current coverage or switch to VALife beginning in 2023. The S-DVI program will close to new applicants, effective Jan. 1, 2023.
Details of the VALife Program
The VALife program offers policies with coverage amounts ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 in $10,000 increments..
VALife is a whole life policy. If a policyholder dies during the first two years, their beneficiary will only receive a payout of all the premiums paid, plus interest. The full death benefit is not payable until the policy has been in effect for at least two years.
The policy may be canceled and the premiums refunded -- with interest -- after the policy has been in effect for at least two years. Veterans may also borrow from the built-up cash value of the policy after it has been in effect for a minimum of two years.
How Much Does It Cost?
Monthly premiums vary based on a veteran's age and the amount of coverage, but could run as low as about $11 per month for an 18-year-old with $10,000 of coverage or as high as $510 per month for an 80-year-old with $40,000 of coverage, according to the VA website. Premiums may be made directly, or withheld from VA disability pay or military retirement.
The premiums are fixed for the life of the policy, meaning veterans will pay the amount for the age they were when they enrolled even as they get older.
For more details, visit the VALife website.
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