Choosing a career in the military carries significantly more risk than most civilian jobs, which is one of the reasons the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides low-cost term life insurance coverage for active-duty military personnel under the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program.

Once an individual retires or separates from the military, they have the option to convert their SGLI plan into a similar plan that is just for veterans: the Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) program.

What kind of coverage does the VGLI program provide?

Eligible veterans are typically able to receive the same coverage they were getting under their pre-separation SGLI plan. (You can also opt for a lesser amount of coverage, provided that amount is in increments of $10,000.)

Once enrolled in the VGLI program, veterans are responsible for paying the monthly premium on their coverage. On your one-year anniversary and once every five years after that until you reach age 60, you’ll have the opportunity to increase your coverage by $25,000 until you reach the maximum amount of $400,000.

How soon after separation should I apply for VGLI coverage?

According to the VA website, veterans must apply for VGLI coverage within one year and 120 days from their date of separation (a total of 485 days). However, if you apply after 240 days, you’ll need to provide evidence of good health.

If you miss this important 240-day window and have an existing medical condition that may make you uninsurable, you could lose your chance at life insurance coverage through the VGLI program.

What if I want to convert my VGLI plan to a commercial life insurance policy?

If you decide at any point after switching to VGLI coverage that you’d prefer a commercial life insurance policy, you can easily convert your VGLI plan to the provider of your choice. First, you’ll need to select a participating provider from this list, then follow the instructions on this page to begin the application process.

Before you apply for VGLI coverage, make sure you have a copy of your DD214.

Basically, there are three ways to apply for VGLI coverage: online, through eBenefits, or by mail. While you may or may not be asked to provide a copy of your DD214 when applying online, applicants are required to attach a copy when applying by mail. Form SGLV 8714, Application for Veterans Group Life Insurance, specifically states:

“Be sure to include your first VGLI premium payment and a copy of your DD-214 or most recent Leave and Earnings Statement with your application. Your VGLI application is not considered complete unless we receive these items with your application.

That said, if you’re thinking about applying for VGLI coverage but don’t have a copy of your DD214, working with an expedited retrieval service like is the best way to ensure you get your DD214 copy quickly and avoid any delays in coverage.

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