Life and Health

What is and why would I need life insurance?
Life insurance is an important financial resource for your loved ones when you die. Ideally, you should have enough life insurance to pay debts, cover future expenses, and provide income for your survivors. Often, affordability prevents this from happening. Whether you purchase all the life insurance you need now or build your coverage over time, determining how much you need or want is the first step.

Online tools can help you determine how much life insurance is right for you.

Life insurance can be an important tool for:

  • replacing your income for your spouse, children, or others who might depend on it;
  • creating an inheritance for your heirs;
  • paying state or federal estate taxes; and
  • contributing to a charitable organization or other worthy cause.

Types Of Plans and Descriptions




For members of the uniformed services.
Can be converted to VGLI (Veterans’ Group Life Insurance)

  • Group life insurance. Provides $400,000 of automatic coverage unless the servicemember elects to reduce coverage by $50,000 increments or cancel it entirely. Premiums are based on coverage amount, not age. When converted to VGLI, premiums are based on the amount of coverage and age, with rates rising every five years.
  • Includes Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (TSGLI), which provides financial assistance to servicemembers during recovery from a serious traumatic injury. Servicemembers eligible for SGLI are insured for traumatic injury protection up to $100,000 unless they decline SGLI coverage.
  • Can insure your spouse and children for Family Group Life Insurance (FGLI). You can buy up to $100,000 of coverage on your spouse with premiums based on age and amount of coverage. Each dependent child automatically is covered for $10,000 at no cost.
  • Servicemembers should first maximize SGLI protection, and then buy additional coverage from a commercial life insurance company if SGLI provides less insurance coverage than you require. If you are buying additional coverage, make sure the additional coverage does not have a war clause.
  • REMAINS IN EFFECT AT NO COST FOR 120 DAYS WHEN THE SERVICEMEMBER LEAVES ACTIVE DUTY. Can be converted to VGLI without proof of good health within 240 days of separation from active duty, usually with an increased premium. VGLI is renewable term insurance and may be converted to a commercial life insurance policy from a participating company at any time. If the servicemember for whom you care is declared 100-percent permanently and totally disabled by the VA at the time of discharge (not 100-percent due to unemployability), SGLI can be extended at no cost for up to 24 months, but the servicemember must contact the Office of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (OSGLI) to elect the extension.

Available for veterans who have service-connected disabilities who are otherwise in good health.

  • Provides up to $10,000 of coverage as either temporary or permanent insurance.

Veterans must apply within two years from the date the VA notifies them they have been granted a new service-connected disability. Premiums are based on the veteran’s age, type of insurance (temporary or permanent), and amount of coverage.



  • Provides payment to any member of the uniformed services covered by SGLI who sustains a traumatic injury that results in certain severe losses. Pays a benefit between $25,000 and $100,000, depending on the loss directly resulting from the traumatic injury (must be applied for through the branch of service to which the servicemember belongs).
  • You may receive free financial planning services with the VA in receipt of a TSGLI payment.
  • To request a TSGLI application benefit form from your branch of service, visit


  • Provides only a death benefit in most cases.
  • Covers you for a period or term equal to a specified number of years or until you reach a specified age. Beneficiaries receive payment only if you die during the policy term.
  • Provides the largest immediate death benefit for the lowest initial outlay for adults under age 45. After age 45, premiums generally rise sharply.
  • Many term policies offer the ability to convert to permanent life insurance. Some life insurance companies charge a fee for this flexibility. Conversion can be a good benefit for those who desire long-term insurance coverage.


  • Combines a death benefit with a cash value.
  • The specified period of coverage is usually up to age 121. You may cancel your coverage and redeem at least part of your accumulated cash value at any time.
  • Might allow you to borrow or withdraw some of your cash value as long as premiums continue to be paid. However, this reduces the death benefit and can result in the policy terminating earlier than planned.



The amount you pay for a life insurance contract can vary widely among life insurance companies. Compare similar policies based on your age, the coverage amount, and the type of policy and its features. Premiums are based on your insurability and risk class — generally determined by the following factors.


  • Younger individuals generally pay lower premiums as they tend to be healthier and have longer to pay premiums before they are likely to die.


  • Women have a longer life expectancy than men and sometimes pay lower premiums.


  • Your use of nicotine and alcohol, as well as your avocations, might affect your premiums.


  • Your blood pressure and cholesterol levels can affect your premiums. If you have a chronic illness or family history of diabetes, heart disease, or cancer, you likely will pay higher premiums.


  • If your job involves risk or travel to dangerous locations, you generally pay more for life insurance.


  • Exercise, eat well, and do not smoke.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Purchase life insurance at a young age to get a lower rate.
  • Purchase the appropriate amount of life insurance and consider using a combination of term insurance and permanent insurance to meet short-term and long-term financial needs.



Besides life insurance, what are additional survivor benefits offered by the DoD, the VA, and The Social Security Administration?
The federal government provides three other forms of benefits that protect your family after your death: Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), and Social Security survivor benefits. DIC and SBP are available to the uniformed services and civil service only. Additional considerations might apply for children with special needs, to include permanently dependent children with Medicaid eligibility. For more information, check with your state Medicaid office.





  • Spouse receives the benefit for life (unless remarried prior to age 57).
  • Child receives the benefit until age 18 (or 23, if a full time student).
  • Benefit is exempt from federal income tax.
  • Additional considerations might apply for children with special needs, to include permanently dependent children with Medicaid eligibility. For more information, check with your state Medicaid office.
  • For more information, visit the VA website.



  • No cost while on active duty.
  • Once you retire, you can choose to buy SBP coverage up to certain limits. You can limit this to only your children, which reduces the cost significantly. However, if you’re married, you must have spousal consent.
  • Additional considerations might apply for children with special needs, to include permanently dependent children with Medicaid eligibility. For more information, check with your state Medicaid office.
  • Spouse receives the benefit for life (unless remarried prior to age 55).
  • Reduced by amount of DIC benefit for spouse.
  • Child may receive benefit until age 18 unless he or she is married or on active duty or until age 22 (if a full-time student).
  • Benefit is taxable for federal income tax purposes.
  • Additional considerations might apply for children with special needs to include permanently disabled children with Medicaid eligibility. For more information, check with your state Medicaid office.
  • For more information, visit the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) website.



  • Spouse receives a survivor’s benefit at age 60 (unless remarried). Benefits may begin as early as 50 years of age if the spouse is disabled. Spouse receives a parent’s benefit until youngest child is age 16 (unless the spouse is remarried prior to age 60).
  • Child receives the benefit until age 18 (19 if a full-time student). Child can receive benefits at any age if disabled prior to age 22 and remains disabled.
  • Benefit may be taxed for federal income tax purposes or reduced depending on other sources of income.
  • For more information, visit the Social Security Administration (SSA) website .


  • One-time $100,000 death benefit paid to servicemembers’ survivors, both active duty and reserve components.
  • Benefit is exempt from federal income tax.
  • For more information, contact the branch of service casualty headquarters or visit the Military Compensation website.


What is and why do I need health insurance?
The military provides TRICARE health coverage for you and your family as long as you are on active duty. Chapter 61 (medical) retirees must notify the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) so their TRICARE premiums are fixed at the time of the retirement. Copayments might increase, but enrollment costs are fixed at the date of retirement for medical retirees. During transition out of the military, avoid time gaps in health insurance.





  • Active duty servicemembers (ADSMs) automatically are covered at no cost and are seen in military treatment facilities (MTFs). Active duty family members (ADFMs) as well as retirees and their family members under the age of 65 also may be seen in MTFs if space is available.
  • No enrollment fee, annual deductible, or copayments for care by TRICARE network providers for family members of ADSMs enrolled in Prime.
  • Copayments remain for ADFMs and retirees and their family members with TRICARE Prime for prescription drugs, inpatient care, and Prime Point of Service (POS) — in-community providers — claims.
  • In addition to the above copayments, retirees and their family members have an annual enrollment fee plus in-community network copayments.
  • The POS option of a TRICARE Prime enrollee self-referring for care has deductibles of $300 a person or $600 a family and 50 percent cost shares.


  • Allows TRICARE Standard beneficiaries to select a network physician, hospital, or other medical provider listed in the TRICARE Provider Directory for a 5-percent cost share discount.
  • No requirement to enroll.
  • Expenses include deductibles and cost-shares.

No requirement to enroll.


  • The TRICARE default option for ADFMs and retirees and their family members without enrollment to another TRICARE plan.
  • Allows military retirees and their dependents and ADFMs to seek an authorized provider of choice.
  • Greatest flexibility in the choice of providers. Most services do not require prior authorization.
  • Expenses include deductibles and cost share of the allowable charges. TRICARE allowable charges are the maximum amounts TRICARE is allowed to pay and are tied by law to Medicare’s allowable charges. You are only responsible for your cost share of the allowable charge if you see a provider in the TRICARE network.
  • Most expensive of the top three options yet provides the greatest choice of providers.


  • Requires enrollment in Medicare Part B.
  • Provides lifetime health care for Medicare-eligible servicemembers and their Medicare-eligible family members.
  • Covers most out-of-pocket costs after Medicare has paid its share.
  • If the servicemember for whom you care is Medicare-eligible and has TRICARE, the servicemember must take Medicare. If the servicemember rejects Medicare Part B, his or her TRICARE benefits are suspended until he or she enrolls in Medicare Part B. While on Medicare, the family will pay the single amount for TRICARE PRIME. Notify DEERS of the servicemember’s Medicare eligibility to update TRICARE.


How do Medicare and other health insurance programs offered by DoD and the VA interact?


  • In some cases, severely injured, ill, or wounded servicemembers might qualify for Medicare while still on active duty and awaiting medical retirement.
  • Generally, if you are eligible to enroll in Medicare Part B (which has monthly premiums of about $100 a month per person), you must enroll in Part B to maintain coverage under TRICARE.
  • Active duty servicemembers who are eligible for Medicare are allowed a special enrollment period for their remaining time on active duty. People in this situation must request an active duty certificate of creditable coverage from the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office to use the special enrollment period. But they must enroll in Medicare Part B before they retire from active duty to avoid a break in medical coverage.


  • If Medicare eligibility is established after retirement, you must enroll in Part B to retain health care coverage under TRICARE. (For details on how the coverage works, see the section on What’s TRICARE See DoD’s TRICARE and Medicare Under-65 Fact Sheet for additional details on the effects of failing to enroll on time.


  • Military retirees and their family members and survivors are eligible to buy coverage under the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP). If they enroll within 120-days of retirement, the 12-month wait period for crowns, onlays, bridges, partial or full dentures and orthodontics is waived. The program is administered under a TRICARE contract with Delta Dental.
  • See the fact sheet for details on coverage, deductibles, etc.
  • Premiums vary based on your location and the number of family members you want to cover. Visit to enter your ZIP code and to see your premium.


What are and why would I need TRICARE supplements?
TRICARE supplements cover expenses that remain after TRICARE pays its share of covered benefits and are designed to limit your out-of-pocket risk for TRICARE-covered benefits up to the catastrophic cap of $1,000 for active duty families per fiscal year and $3,000 for retired families per fiscal year. The catastrophic cap is the maximum you will pay per family in any given fiscal year for TRICARE-covered benefits.

What is the Continued Health Care Benefits Program (CHCBP)?
If you leave the military before retirement, you can purchase health insurance that mirrors TRICARE for up to 18 months (for servicemembers) and up to 36 months (for family members). The coverage effective date begins the day after you lose military benefits. Group health care coverage is usually available through civilian employers. Individual health insurance can be expensive. If you cannot get insurance through your employer and you are not eligible for TRICARE or VA medical care, investigate group health insurance obtained through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health care federal or state exchanges. Get more information on the TRICARE website.

What is VA health care?
The VA provides a medical benefits package to all enrolled veterans through the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). This plan provides a full range of preventive and inpatient services within the VA health care system. Once enrolled in the VA’s health care system, veterans may be treated at any VA facility across the country. Eligibility for most veterans’ health care benefits is based solely on active duty military service in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard and for veterans discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.

Treatment eligibility is time limited if a claim is not filed. The veteran will have copayments for services until the claim has been resolved and the condition for which he or she is receiving treatment is declared service connected. It is the veteran’s responsibility to notify the VA medical center’s billing department when his or her claim has been settled in order for the veteran to have his or her copayments waived or reimbursed if the treated condition was service-connected. The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), which determines disability and compensation, does not communicate claims decisions with VHA. The veteran must provide a copy of the claim determination to the VHA Records Department and to the Medical Billing Department.

What is and why would I need CHAMPVA?
The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) is a comprehensive VA health care program. The VA shares the cost of covered health care services and supplies with eligible beneficiaries. To be eligible for CHAMPVA, you cannot be eligible for TRICARE and you must be in one of the following categories:

  1. The spouse or child (age 18, unless enrolled in school) of a veteran who has been rated permanently and totally disabled for a service-connected disability by a VA regional office.
  2. The surviving spouse or child of a veteran who died from a VA-rated service-connected disability.
  3. The surviving spouse or child of a veteran who was at the time of death rated permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected disability.
  4. The surviving spouse or child of a servicemember who died in the line of duty, not due to misconduct (in most of these cases, these family members are eligible for TRICARE, not CHAMPVA).
  5. A caregiver recognized by the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, if that caregiver does not have TRICARE.

For more information on CHAMPVA visit the VA website.

What are other health insurance programs that might be available to me or the veteran for whom I care?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA)

  • You and your family are eligible to purchase health insurance plans (or policies) through government-run health insurance marketplaces, also known as federal or state health exchanges. You might be eligible for a subsidized plan by the federal government based on your family’s income and the number of people in your household. Plans cannot deny coverage or charge more for pre-existing medical conditions, and they must cover treatments for those conditions. Many preventive services also will be covered at no cost. If you elect coverage through your job you become ineligible for federal subsidies. With a few exceptions, people who do not have insurance will face a tax penalty, starting in 2014 at $95 or 1 percent of household income, whichever is greater.

Other options to consider include government programs such as Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which can provide coverage to you or your dependents if significant financial conditions apply.

I wantto know...