We have been talking about life insurance and the Armed Forces. A group of four families has taken the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Prudential Financial Inc. to court over payment of life insurance benefits. The defendants say the deceased family members, all former active duty military, were not covered because they did not complete the appropriate paperwork.
When they separated from the military, the service members had 120 days to submit an application and the first premium payment for veterans' coverage under the Veterans Group Life Insurance program. The life insurance policies in effect when they were on active duty terminated at the end of those 120 days or the date the VGLI policy went into effect, whichever was sooner.
The problem for the veterans in this case was that the military never notified them that the coverage would terminate. Nor were they told that they would have to apply for VGLI.
It isn't entirely clear that this young man could have even managed the application. His father eloquently describes how his son had changed when he came back from his tour in Iraq. The moodiness, the memory loss and the chronic pain were only hints of how deeply the war had affected him. He couldn't hold onto a job. It was clear to his father, just as it was clear to the other families in the lawsuit, that the war hero suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The plaintiffs discovered that there is an exception to the 120-days-and-you're-out rule. If the veteran is disabled at the time of "deactivation" from the military, the Servicemember Group Life Insurance policy remains in effect for an additional two years or until the veteran is no longer disabled, whichever occurs earlier. At that point, the veteran has 120 days to apply for VGLI.
Like so many other former service members, these four suffered the disability of PTSD when they returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result, their families say, they should be entitled to life insurance coverage.
We'll finish this up in our next post.
Source: Courthouse News Service, "Prudential, USA Stiff Families of Suicidal Veterans, Kin Claim," Cheryl Armstrong, July 12, 2012
Our firm handles similar situations to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Miami Life Insurance Claim page.