On December 16, 2020, Congress passed a wide-sweeping policy bill numbering 337 pages and containing updated protections for disabled veterans, female veterans, Native-American veterans, student veterans, and homeless veterans. The package looks to assist with a number of issues affecting veterans, some very recent such as the coronavirus pandemic, and others quite longstanding, including one of which we’d like to take a closer look at now, its updates to service-disabled veterans insurance (S-DVI).
S-DVI is a life insurance program that was adopted in the 1950s due to the increase in veterans with service-connected disabilities whose conditions rendered them unable to pass typical life insurance physicals offered by commercial insurances. S-DVI was meant to offer veterans an affordable alternative to commercial life insurance policies that were most likely out of their reach, and at the time, it was a welcome benefit. It still is; however, in the intervening decades, it’s gone through very few changes. Its benefits feel nearly ancient given the cost of living today, such as its $10,000 payment cap that has been in place from its inception up to the present day.
S-DVI Updates and Guidelines
Under Section 2004 of H.R. 7105, or the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020, the maximum payable benefit for S-DVI increases from $10,000 to $40,000. This is mean to continue giving veterans a low-cost life insurance option while providing greater value after decades of inflation.
Premium rates are set by the age per $10,000 of insurance, though for veterans who have a 100% rating, the premium is waived. This is the case whether your rating is 100% from the beginning or you earn a 100% rating later on. Should your rating fall below 100% at some point, you will be expected to begin paying a premium.
One important note is the eligibility period for signup. Veterans have only two years from the day that service-connection is first established for their disability to enroll in S-DVI. Once that first decision is made and you’re assigned your first disability rating, the clock is ticking. Increases or decreases in your rating do not reset the clock. Any changes in your disability rating will continue to have no bearing on the original 2-year window, so you must make sure you sign up following the VA’s first decision.
At one point in this bill’s history, a proposed extension of 10 years for S-DVI eligibility was made, though that hasn’t made it into the 2020 legislative package. Still, the increase in the policy’s maximum payout is reasoning enough for eligible veterans to give it serious consideration, and to do so in a timely manner.
Assistance with Your Claim
The 2020 omnibus bill also contains provisions to the Traumatic Injury Protection Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance program which are meant to clarify the reasons for rejected claims by veterans. Rejected VA claims are a frequent and serious nuisance for many veterans, and the new law is meant to help clear up some of the red tapes they so often encounter.
Despite the law’s updates, bureaucratic obstacles will still be the norm when it comes to working with the VA, which is why we at VA Disability Group PLLC are here to assist you. If you’re struggling with a new or rejected claim, or need help making an appeal, call us at 844-VET-LAWS or fill out our contact form online so that we can help you get the VA benefits you deserve.