Service members and veterans will be able to increase their maximum life insurance coverage by $100,000 under a bill that recently cleared Congress.
The bill, dubbed the Supporting Families of the Fallen Act, will boost maximum coverage for both the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance plan and the Veterans' Group Life Insurance plan for the first time since 2005.
The measure, which passed the Senate earlier this year, was approved unanimously by the House on Thursday, sending the bill to President Joe Biden's desk for his expected signature.
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"Our military families support our war fighters in dangers of battle and through the most difficult times," Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., the bill's sponsor, said in a video statement last week. "We hope they never receive that horrible call, but when one of our service members pays the ultimate sacrifice, their family should be taken care of."
Under the bill, maximum coverage for both Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance and the Veterans' Group Life Insurance will increase from $400,000 to $500,000.
Both insurance policies are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and, while neither is free, they offer service members and veterans a low-cost option for life insurance.
Service members and veterans who choose the new $500,000 coverage will pay about $6 more per month for their premium than under the $400,000 plan, Tuberville's office told Military.com in March. The $400,000 coverage is $25 per month for service members and ranges anywhere from $28 per month for veterans 29 years or younger to $1,800 per month for veterans 80 years or older.
The Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance automatically enrolls qualified troops, including all active-duty members, cadets at military academies and certain members of the reserves and National Guard, though troops can choose to decline coverage. The Defense Department reimburses the premium when a service member is in a combat zone.
The Veterans' Group Life Insurance is open to veterans who had the service members' plan and are within one year and 120 days of leaving the military.
In an interview with Military.com in March, Tuberville said an increase in coverage is particularly important now as inflation drives up the cost of living. The former college football coach also said he could envision an increased payout helping families pay for higher education.
"Sometimes, it's the little things that really help," Tuberville said. "There's not a lot being saved by these military families, there's not a big savings account, and so there's not a lot to lean on if there's a death in the family. So I think this gives us another opportunity to give peace of mind to some of the families."
-- Rebecca Kheel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @reporterkheel.
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