Programs That Can Help Veterans Afford a Car

Programs That Can Help Veterans Afford a Car

Transitioning back to civilian life is often a hard process. You may need to find a place to live, a place to work and struggle to adjust to a new routine. One thing that would make your life easier was if you had a reliable form of transportation. Luckily, there are some great veteran benefits programs out there that can make it easier for veterans to afford a car. 

Veteran’s Affairs Automobile Allowance

If you were injured during your service, the first place you should contact is your local VA office. Through their Automobile Allowance program, you may be given money to get a car, so that you don’t have to pay any out of pocket expenses. As of October 2016, you can receive up to $20,235 for purchasing a car – an amount that will help you afford a very reliable new car. Qualifying injuries for this program include the loss of a hand or foot, burn injuries, or vision impairment. If you’re unsure if your disability qualifies you for the program, the best thing you can do is reach out to your VA office.

Progressive’s Keys to Progress

Another great program is run by Progressive, called Keys to Progress. Through this program, Progressive has donated more than 700 vehicles to veterans and veteran organizations. Every November, Progressive hosts a large one-day event in which they give away cars. Progressive begins reviewing applications for anyone wanting a car beginning in May, so if you’re interested in applying, you can learn more about the program here, including the eligibility requirements. 

Navy Federal Credit Union

When you want to buy a car, this typically means taking out a loan. If you do this through a bank, you may face some heavy interest rates that can make the car hard to afford. Often, a better option is to go through a credit union. Credit unions are like banks, except the members are the owners. Credit unions typically have a requirement for joining, such as living in a certain area or having a certain type of job. If you’re a veteran though, you can join the Navy Federal Credit Union. Through this organization, you can obtain a low-interest auto loan, along with some great other benefits. 

United Services Automobile Association

Part of owning a car is paying the insurance on it, which is yet another expense. Veterans should look to the United Services Automobile Association, as they can help you get affordable car insurance. On top of that, they can even help you get a car loan if you need it, and find you various discounts from car manufacturers. This is a great service to turn to for all your car buying needs. 

Private Lenders

Speaking of discounts, many private lenders offer discounts to veterans and active-duty military members. When shopping for a car, you should check out the fine print. You may notice several discounts available for veterans, which will significantly lower the price of the car. If you don’t see any discounts listed on their website, it doesn’t hurt to ask a sales representative if they have anything available.

In addition to discounts, some private lenders also offer help in other ways. They may accept lower credit ratings, offer a lower interest rate on the auto loan, or even require less of a down payment. Each of these can help veterans afford their next car purchase, so talk to the lender to see what they can do for you.

However, you should also be a little wary of private seller discounts. You should always investigate each discount thoroughly before accepting it – you never know who might be trying to scam you. 

Extended Warranties

Finally, you should consider getting an extended warranty on your car. These are particularly useful for veterans who might not have enough money saved up to pay for a sudden car expense. An extended warranty will cover things like mechanical breakdowns after the original manufacturer’s warranty has expired. Finding an extended warranty is easy, just search online for a warranty that matches the model of the car you are getting. For example, if you are purchasing a used Kia, you could visit a site like –https://gogetolive.com/extended-car-warranty/kia/.

Make Use of the Help Available to You

There are many programs out there designed to help veterans. If you’re unsure of how you’re going to afford your next vehicle, you should explore what options are out there for you. You may be pleasantly surprised at how many organizations are willing to make it easier for you to get a car, and before long you’ll be driving around in a reliable car.

The Best Military Spouse Blogs

May…springtime is in full swing…we celebrate and thank our teacher, nurses, mothers and honor our nation’s fallen heroes…but did you know it is also the time of Military Spouse Appreciation Day? Military Spouse Appreciation Day is a holiday set aside to tell military spouses why they matter — and why they are needed. Each year Military Spouse Appreciation Day is celebrated the Friday before Mother’s Day at  US military bases and within military families around the globe.

In our digital age blogs of all kinds provide unique perspectives, share knowledge and provide a sense of community for those walking a similar path in their own lives. There are no shortage of blogs on all aspects of military life. In honor of Military Spouse Appreciation Day here are some links to some creative and relevant  blogs written by and for military spouses.

Jo, My Gosh:  We recommend you start reading this blog for the same reason Jo started writing it- the care packages. Jo offers great content on creating that special something. But don’t stop there! Stick around for more DIY tips and tales of military life.

Cosmopolitan Cornbread by Constance Smith:  Army Wife of 25+ years and veteran blogger. Anywhere Constance goes, she chronicles her journey with her readers – from creating family-friendly recipes and hiking in the wilderness of Alaska to photographic journeys and exploring the culture and food scene around her.

Somewhere Over the Camo: Amanda is here for other military spouses. Her blog details her family life and also has a lot to offer to others.

A Day in the Life of an Officer’s Wife: Shannon’s experience as a wife to a Naval Officer, a mother to a little girl, and their day-to-day life as a military family makes for a beautiful blog.

The Meat and Potatoes of Life: Weekly blogs/columns offer an honest, often humorous, look at military family life — from the daily minutia to the poignant moments, and every dust bunny, sassy teenager, and burnt pancake in between.

Macho Spouse: For male military spouses by male military spouses – an online resource and information hub for male military spouses.Macho Spouse helps male military spouses successfully navigate current military life through videos, online networking and communication.

We, at Military Connection,thank you for your contribution to our nation’s military. You are the silent heroes of the homefront and we appreciate your service. Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Day to each and every one of you. 

 

Veterans Benefits: The VA Home Loan

Veterans Benefits: The VA Home Loan

Contributed by Alan Rohlfing

 

As members of the United States military community, we know that we have a host of benefits available to us, whether we give much conscious thought to it or not. Most of our benefits are administered by the Veterans Benefits Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that’s responsible for the Department’s programs that provide financial and other forms of assistance to Veterans, their dependents, and survivors. Eligibility for most VA benefits is based upon discharge from active military service under other than dishonorable conditions.

We’re most familiar with those programs that impact us personally. So many of us are well-versed in those benefits available in the healthcare arena, or in compensation and pension, or in education and training. Or perhaps it’s the insurance products, such as SGLI and VGLI, that resonate with you, or maybe it’s the burial and memorial services for which you qualify. The Veterans benefit that we’re going to spend a few minutes on now, however, is one that has a phenomenal impact on those that choose to use it…and that’s the VA home loan.

Long story short: VA direct and VA-backed Veterans home loans can help Veterans, service members, and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners (and buy, build, improve, or refinance a home). Created in 1944, the VA home loan program was part of the original Servicemen’s Readjustment Act. Also known as the GI Bill of Rights, it was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was considered to be part of sweeping legislation aimed to level the playing field for those who served our country during World War II. Homeownership was at the heart of those efforts, and rather than provide Veterans with a cash bonus to help with the purchase of a home, the government decided a loan guarantee was a more powerful, long-term solution. Early on, the VA guarantee was limited to 50 percent of the loan amount, not to exceed $2,000. The average home price in 1944 was about $8,600. Loans had a 4 percent interest rate cap, and the term couldn’t exceed 20 years. All loans required VA approval.

So, what’s the big deal with the VA home loan program? Well, VA loans are some of the only loans around that offer no down payment (with more conventional loans, the buyer is required to provide up to 20% down); there’s no private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can save a borrower hundreds of dollars a month over conventional loans; there is a 2-3% funding fee, but not everyone has to pay that fee (such as those with a service-connected disability); and the loan limits are pretty generous. Beginning this year, there is no maximum amount for which a home buyer can receive a VA loan, but lenders may set their own limits.

As a rule, the VA isn’t a bank or a mortgage company (except for the Native American Direct Loan Program). VA Home Loans are provided by private lenders and the VA guarantees a portion of the loan…if a VA-backed home loan goes into foreclosure, the guarantee allows the lender to recover some or all of their losses. This lets the lender view the transaction as a little less risky and give the borrower more favorable terms.

As with most benefits programs, there are some pretty tight eligibility criteria. Who’s eligible for this VA program? Well, surprising to some is that VA loans are available not only to Veterans, but also other classes of military personnel. The list of eligibles includes active-duty Servicemembers, members of the National Guard & Reserve, surviving spouses of Veterans, and a few other groups.  You’ll need a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to demonstrate eligibility to a lender, and you’ll need to meet standard VA loan requirements, such as income and employment verifications. Just because you have a COE, however, doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a VA loan; it just shows the lender that you’re eligible for the VA guarantee. You can obtain a COE through eBenefits, by mail, and often through your lender. Another good thing is that your eligibility never expires…Veterans who earned their benefit long ago are still using the program to buy homes.

There are several different financial products in this broad Veterans benefit. VA-guaranteed loans are available for homes that Veterans purchase for primary occupancy or to refinance, such as the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL). The IRRRL is generally performed to lower the interest and reduce the monthly payment on the existing VA guaranteed loan. There’s also the Native American Direct Loan (NADL) Program, which helps Native American Veterans purchase, construct, improve, or refinance a home on Native American trust lands; and the Adapted Housing Grants program, where the VA helps Veterans with certain total and permanent disabilities related to military service obtain suitable housing.

While the particulars of the home loan benefit have changed some over the years (and who’s to say there won’t be some modification next month or next year), here are some other factoids about the program, in excruciatingly little detail:

-A VA loan can be used to buy a detached house, condo, new-built home, manufactured home or duplex, triplex or four-unit property or to refinance an existing loan for those types of properties. You might also be able to borrow extra money to make repairs or improvements to the home; or, make it more energy efficient;

-You cannot use a VA loan to buy a home in a foreign country. You are only permitted to purchase homes located in the United States or a U.S. territory or possession;

– You can’t use a VA loan to buy a rental property, but you might be able to use a VA loan to refinance an existing rental home you once occupied as a primary home. An exception to this rule is the IRRRL, which can be used to refinance an existing VA loan for a home where you currently live or where you used to live, but no longer do;

– Federal regulations do limit loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to “primary residences” only, however, “primary residence” is defined as the home in which you live “most of the year;” and

– Lenders follow VA standards when making VA-backed home loans, such as requiring a high enough credit score or getting an updated home appraisal (an expert’s estimate of the value of your home). The VA does not set a minimum score for home loan approval, but experts say most lenders will require a score of 620 or higher.

I first used this benefit in the early 1990s, and I still have a VA-backed home loan today (different house, different loan). I’ve always viewed it as a great way to transition from home renter to homeowner, but I get that it’s not for everyone. If owning your own home is something you plan on experiencing in the near future, I encourage you to take a closer look at a VA home loan. I’ve read that the VA has backed somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 million home loans, and the program just turned 75 years last spring…I doubt it’s going away anytime soon. If you’re eligible for this benefit, it can help deliver the joys of home ownership to your doorstep, too.

 

ROTC & You

As a teen, one who attended an all girls private school, I only heard the letters ROTC in passing. We had a neighbor whose son, around my age talked about possibly joining the program at his school. Enter the social media age in the 2000’s and the occasional friend posts photos of their child(ren) participating in ROTC drills or activities. Flash forward another handful of years, my son as a boy scout knows several older scouts participating in ROTC programs at their high schools yet I have still no clue what the program is or does other than to have an affiliation with our military services.

 

ROTC is an acronym for Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and its goal is to train young adults for a future in the branches of the U.S. Military. The Army, Air Force and Navy each have their own ROTC program offered at more than 1700 colleges and universities throughout the US. In exchange for a paid college tuition and a guaranteed post-college career, cadets commit to serve in the military after their college graduation.The Air Force also has a Jr. ROTC program offered at many public high schools throughout the country. 

 

The JROTC and ROTC programs share a point of origin: the National Defense Act of 1916. The passage of this legislation united military training resources under a single federal umbrella. This allowed high schools and colleges to obtain military training instructors and supply funding from a single ROTC organization. Title 10 Section 2031 of the U.S. Code describes how JROTC programs provide students with at least three years of military instruction, along with access to uniforms, academic materials, and instructors who have served as U.S. Armed Forces officers. According to numbers published by the U.S. Army, over 500,000 high school students serve as JROTC cadets across all the branches. 

 

Often, the strongest reason for students to enroll in a ROTC program is the benefit of paid college tuition, fees, books and other necessities of college life. While the offset of these costs is certainly helpful, it is important to remember that ROTC scholarships come with the commitment of mandatory active duty service after completion of a bachelor’s degree program. In addition to the financial benefits, enrollment in an ROTC program provides young adults the opportunity to develop technical and leadership skills, a structured path to a career after college, specialized professional training for military officer positions after college and long-term career guidance and continued professional education.

 

Even if a student has not participated in high school JR ROTC, they can still apply and participate at the beginning of their college career. At the collegiate level, each branch (minus the Coast Guard which has its own similar program) has its own specialized ROTC program. 

 

The types of training programs, service commitments and possible career specialities vary from branch to branch. The Army’s program, arguably the most popular among college students and offered at over 1000 colleges and universities, cadets receive training in army leadership, military tactics, principles of war and combat survival training. Cadets commit to serve for three to eight years, depending on scholarship level. Among the many career paths within the Army cadets pursue futures within the infantry, military intelligence, civil affairs and the medical corps. The Air Force’s program is nearly as popular and offered at just as many colleges and universities across the country. Participants train and study laws of armed conflict, international security, aerospace studies and field training among other studies and areas of concentration. Individuals serve between four and ten years depending on contract cadet appointment. Cadets can pursue a future in air battle management, aircraft maintenance, cyberspace operations, piloting and tactical air control. The US Navy and the Marine Corps share one program for both branches offered at over 150 institutes of higher learning across the country. Cadets participate in summer cruise training, surface warfare orientation, flight time on navy aircraft, and maritime self-defense programs. Cadets commit to serve between 3-12 years of active military service, depending on scholarship acceptance and degree level. After completion of the program cadets can pursue futures in submarine, explosive ordnance disposal, US Marine Corps, Navy Nursing Corps among other careers within both branches. 

Many young adults considering a path in the armed forces choose to participate in Junior ROTC programs at their local high school. Students may be eligible to enroll as early as the 9th grade. Each branch of the military has their own program for this age group and are available throughout both public and private high schools as well as alternative learning centers throughout the country. Citizenship, leadership, character and community service are the core tenets of high school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs, or JROTC. Those values are at the heart of the JROTC Cadet Creed that emphasizes working to better the cadet’s family, school and country. The primary goal of the Junior ROTC program is good citizenship. Students who participate in JROTC are not required to join the military after high school and the program is not a military preparation class. JROTC programs are taught by retired service members. Course work includes military history and customs – which is typically branch-specific – and students are required to wear a uniform that mirrors what military personnel wear in their respective branches. Students typically only need to wear their full uniform once per week throughout the entire school year and part of their grade is dependent on their compliance with the uniform policy. Full uniforms must always be worn for JROTC events outside of the classroom. Among other activities students often take part in physical fitness training and drill instruction. 

 

Joining the ROTC or JROTC can be a fulfilling experience for many young adults about to embark on their futures. It is important to keep in mind, at the college level, that active duty service is mandatory as part of the program. That choice may not be right for everyone. For those who have the dedication and drive to embark on this journey it is the unique chance to have a head start in their career with the military. ROTC cadets (students in training) cannot be called for service until they graduate and finish the program, so there are no interruptions while in school for an undergraduate or bachelor’s degree. There are many opportunities for postgraduate education and scholarships for ROTC graduates after fulfilling active duty, so the program can also prepare cadets for a life and career after their service. 

 

New Technology Reduces Stress-Induced Pain, May Help Vets

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, anywhere between 11% to 12% of
veterans who served in Iraq suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, while 15% of Vietnam
veterans suffer from PTSD. While the rate at which veterans are diagnosed differs based on
when and where they served time, it’s no secret that veterans and active military members alike
struggle with the trauma induced during their service.

However, what many people don’t realize is that stress manifests itself in the body. This means
that not only is it a mental disorder, but that it can be further compounded into a physical
disorder as well.

“The most common forms of physical pain are caused by tissue damage from an injury, stress,
or decay, which causes nerve fibers to signal the brain with a pain sensation,” says Jan
Wellmann, CEO at WaveLife.com. “We developed the WaveLife Energy Cell to safely address
common pain points while decreasing dependence on prescription pills.”

Credible lab reports tested the effects of the WaveLife Energy Cell by using cultured organ-
specific cells, and results clearly indicate effective treatment of cell cultures. For veterans, this
new technology could be game-changing in both treating stress and chronic pain.

How Stress Affects the Body

The stress hormones in your body trigger its “fight or flight” response. Whenever you feel
stressed, your body braces itself for battle: your heart begins to race and your muscles start to
tense. This knee-jerk reaction is in place to protect and prepare you in emergencies situations.
However, when those stress hormones are fired consistently with no physical battle in sight, it
creates long-term consequences for the body.

For instance, because stress hormones tighten your blood vessels, it raises your blood
pressure. High blood pressure and an increased heart rate cause damage to your arteries,
which could ultimately result in a heart attack. And lastly, long-term stress weakens your
immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections and diseases.

According to one study called, Chronic Pain and Chronic Stress: Two Sides of the Same Coin?,
pain and stress share significant physiological overlaps. “Both phenomena challenge the body’s
homeostasis and necessitate decision-making to help animals adapt to their environment,” the study states. “Better understanding of the overlapping and distinguishing features of chronic stress and pain could provide greater insight into the neurobiology of these processes, as well
as contribute to rational drug development for these often comorbid conditions.”

Addiction to Prescription Pills

According to research, more than 20 million veterans across the United States struggle with
chronic pain. Many veterans who suffer from PTSD or from chronic pain stemming from combat-
related injuries are given prescription pills for anxiety and pain—both which are highly addictive.
Growing a tolerance for these drugs can quickly lead to withdrawals when attempting to wean
off of them. There is already an opioid epidemic in this country due to the addictive quality of
these clinically administered narcotics. While the VA’s Opioid Safety Initiative (OSI) has limited
the amount of prescriptions available, there’s still work to be done.

Using Vital Fields to Heal

The human body produces its own electromagnetic fields in very low frequencies. Every atom in
your body has its own electrical fields, and specific sections of your body generate electricity.
When you’re injured, the sensors in your body use these electrical signals to send a message to
your brain, which processes this as pain. Every little process in your body that keeps you alive
and healthy can ultimately be traced back to an electrical field.
Vital fields are instrumental to the Energy Cell technology. Vital fields are the life promoting
frequencies that are everywhere, all around us. In every direction, organisms are projecting their
own energy through natural electromagnetic vital fields. “Vibratory stimuli interact in the body in
a complex manner, and when energy in the body is manipulated by mimicking vital fields, it can
result in positive physiological effects,” says Wellmann.

You may not realize it, but you exist as a walking electrical field. Your body contains electrical
“generators.” Your vital field, or bio-energies, have different electromagnetic properties that
consist of specific deficiencies, stressors, and other characteristics. No two vital fields are alike,
just as no two fingerprints are alike. Often, these stressors are lurking beneath the tip of the
iceberg that represent many chronic and acute diseases.
With the right tools, you can leverage your body’s own self healing power to quickly regenerate
damaged or dysfunctional tissue, and that’s what technology like the WaveLife Energy Cell aims
to do.

What’s Next

It’s important to understand that veterans seeking relief from pain or addiction have many
treatment options available to them through the Veteran’s Association. Alternative medicine,
such as acupuncture, meditation, and relaxation have all been linked to healing properties.

Lifestyle management, such as healthy diets and exercise regimens, also help decrease stress.
Counseling and therapy are always, of course, great options that should be used in conjunction
with other forms of pain and stress management. Regain control of your body by taking the first
steps towards creating a plan designed specifically for you.

Being Military Friendly

Reflections on the Value of Being Military Friendly

Contributed by Alan Rohlfing

 

What does the term “military friendly” even mean? It wasn’t really a thing in the 80s. Not in the 90s, either. I seem to recall that it all started 10 or 15 years ago, this effort by organizations to be known as military-friendly to its customers. It’s kind of an ambiguous term, many times without much concrete detail…so it begs the question: what value does that term hold for those of us from the military community?

When we talk about a company or organization being military- or Veteran-friendly, it always seems like they fall into one of three groups: stores, schools, or employers. And while some of us get to feel the love from one of those groups just about every time we get out to run some errands, with the others we may not give it much thought if we aren’t a college student or working for some national, top-notch workforce. But let’s take a deeper dive into each of these groups, if only for a moment…

The stores. Being labeled as military-friendly in the retail environment almost always means that the store (brick and mortar or online) offers some kind of military discount. That discount usually falls in the neighborhood of 10 percent off, but there are certainly exceptions and caveats to that. Some stores offer those discounts all year long, some only on certain days of the week (Tuesdays seem to be the popular choice), and still others offer up their discounts only on major holidays, like Veterans Day or Memorial Day. Some offer their discounts only to those still actively serving, and others make their offer to both active and retired members of the US Armed Forces.

Examples abound of local, regional, and national companies that give 15-20% off, but then again, some cap it at 5%. Some companies offer up a ‘free shipping’ discount, and there’s even a cellular service provider (or two) that have a special rate plan for military folks.

Being eligible for the discount depends on the company, and sometimes it feels like we have to jump through many hoops to qualify. You may only have to show a copy of your military ID or DD-214, but some will require eligibility verification through platforms like ID.me, a service that simplifies how individuals securely prove and share their identity online (but even some brick and mortar stores require registration with them, too).

Long story short – whether you find yourself in your neighborhood big box store on a weekly basis or you only take advantage of 10% off a cup of coffee every now and then, you can save a tidy sum of money over the course of a year by ‘redeeming’ your military discount. And if you aren’t sure whether a place at which you’re doing business offers one, it doesn’t hurt to ask…some businesses don’t advertise the discount (I’m just not sure why they wouldn’t).

The schools. By that, I mean colleges and universities that offer certificate- and degree-producing programs, and there are variable criteria for them earning the military-friendly tag. After so many of us went back to college upon earning our GI Bill benefits in the 2000s and 2010s, and especially after the rash of school failures that left many student Veterans high and dry – there’s been a very concerted effort to set, measure, and publish standards for all of us to use in our “where should we study” decision making process.

Military Friendly ® is a group that does just that, by evaluating over 8,000 schools on benchmarks that measure an institution’s commitment to its student Veteran population in graduation rate, retention rate, loan default rate, and job placement rate. Check out their latest list of military-friendly schools here.

The workforce. This is a really subjective one, because how we feel about our places of work typically depend on much more than whether they meet a few military-related criteria. Perhaps the most well-known list of these employers also comes from Military Friendly ®. Just as they did for colleges and universities, the group organizes a yearly list of Military Friendly Companies and Military Spouse Friendly Employers.

If you work for a company that hasn’t “made the list,” what does that mean? Well, I doubt many of you will give notice and start the job search all over again, but it may make you look critically at how you can improve upon your employer’s culture. Most of the people who might find value in a list of military-friendly companies, though, are undoubtedly job-seekers, and I know more than a few over the years who have actively sought work with a verified, certified  military- and Veteran-friendly employer.

 

National lists like those don’t account for many of the smaller, more local companies; if you’d still like to size up your own workplace, here are some things you might consider: Has the company taken on a specific hiring initiative? Do they reach out to separating Service members  and Veterans Service Organizations, looking for job-seekers? Do they have an onboarding program specifically for those from the military community? Do they have Veterans groups in-house already? Do they welcome members of the National Guard and Reserve to their workforce, and keep their families close when deployments crop up? These ‘criteria’ aren’t from any official list, but they’re a good start…

 

At the end of the day, whether or not you find any substantive benefit from an organization claiming to be military-friendly, know that there’s still a ‘sea of goodwill’ out there. If it’s only to get a free meal on a national holiday, or 10% off my home improvement supplies, or to try and get on with an employer that really understands the military community…I appreciate the gesture, and I imagine most of you do, too.

 

What Veterans and their Spouses Need to Know about Life Insurance

What Veterans and their Spouses Need to Know about Life Insurance

Submitted by Veronica Baxter

Before separating from military service, there are some decisions you need to make regarding the financial future of your family. An individual life insurance policy may figure into those plans.

Government-sponsored Ways to Protect Your Family Financially

Military Pension

Prior to separating, you will have the option to provide that your spouse receive a portion of your military pension when you die. This is at significant cost, so be sure to weigh the benefits of provided for your surviving spouse against the loss of retirement income to pay for that.

 

If you are a war-time veteran, your surviving spouse and unmarried surviving children may be eligible for a modest Survivors Pension, also called a Death Pension.

Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI)

This low-cost group term life insurance policy is available to active duty, active duty/inactive duty for training, and National Guardsman and Reservists. Upon separation from the military you have the opportunity to convert this policy to a either Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) or to an individual plan. Again, veterans should weigh the cost of converting this insurance with the potential benefit.

 

To convert the SGLI policy to VGLI, a veteran must take action within one year and 120 of discharge. If the veteran submits an application to convert within 240 days of discharge the insurer will not require any proof of insurability or take a medical exam.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

Veterans’ survivors can receive thousands of dollars in tax-free payments if certain criteria is met: 

 

  • Service member dies during service;
  • Veteran dies due to a service-connected disability;
  • Veteran’s death unrelated to service but VA rated him or her totally disabled from a service connected disability.

Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI)

Any veteran who is rated disabled qualifies for a Serivice-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) that provides life insurance coverage up to $10,000. Totally disabled veterans can have premiums waived and apply for an additional $30,000 in life insurance coverage, for which they must pay premiums.

Private Individual Life Insurance

For many veterans, private individual life insurance bridges the gap between what is available to their surviving spouse and children through the government, and what their surviving family needs to survive financially. Even if you and your family qualify for all available government financial assistance programs listed above, those benefits may still leave your family short.

 

For those who do not qualify for many of these benefits, for example, the surviving spouses who married veterans after they separated from the military, or for the surviving spouses of those who did not opt to convert their Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance to an individual plan, or for the surviving spouse of a veteran who was not disabled prior to death, a private individual life insurance policy may be the only remaining way a veterant can provide for his or her spouse.

AD&D Insurance

Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance is a type of life insurance policy that pays benefits to the insured should he or she become accidentally injured, and death benefits to the insured’s named beneficiaries should the insured die accidentally or from injuries sustained in an accident.

 

AD&D insurance can be a stand-alone policy, in which case it is generally less expensive than traditional life insurance. AD&D insurance can also be a rider on an existing life insurance policy.

 

AD&D insurance can be valuable if a veteran later becomes disabled or dies due to injuries sustained in a non-service-related accident.

Burial Insurance or PreNeed Funeral Insurance

For veterans who do not qualify for whatever reason for government burial benefits, other types of insurance can cover funeral costs. These policies vary greatly among different insurance companies, but in general, the benefit is quite low, ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.

 

Burial insurance pays the benefit directly to the beneficiary and any amount left over after funeral and burial costs are paid may be used to pay other expenses, such as outstanding medical bills, etc.

 

PreNeed Funeral Insurance pays the benefit directly to the funeral service provider of the insured’s choice.

Converting SGLI to USAA Term LIfe Insurance

For members of the military and veterans, USAA offers terms from 10 to 30 years and can replace some or all of the life insurance coverage a veteran had under SGLI. USAA also offers a term life event option rider which permits veterans to increase coverage by up to $100,000 if he or she gets married, buys a house, or has a baby.

Converting SGLI to AAFMAA Term Life Insurance

Veterans who are members of AAFMAA are eligible for up to $800,000 in term life insurance coverage. Term options available to veterans depend upon the age of the veteran and how long he or she needs life insurance coverage.

 

In conclusion, there are private sector insurance options that can make up for the gap in what amount funds your lifestyle now, and what amount will be available to your surviving family once you die.  Consult an insurance agent in your area to explore your options, and get the peace of mind that comes with providing for your family’s financial future.

 

About the Author

Veronica Baxter is a blogger and legal assistant living and working in the great city of Philadelphia.  She works frequently with Chad G. Boonswang, Esq., a life insurance attorney in Philadelphia.