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Death -- Question & Answer Listing  
Question / Answer

What is the difference between whole and term life insurance?

Term insurance is designed to meet temporary needs and provides protection for a specific period of time, generally paying a benefit only if you die during that period of time. Term insurance is used to provide coverage of expenses that will disappear at a specific time. For example, you may only need coverage until your children graduate college or until your mortgage is paid off. Whole-Life (or permanent) insurance provides lifelong protection. The full-face amount of the policy is paid upon the insured individual’s death. Permanent life insurance accumulates cash on a tax-deferred basis, and that value can be used to supplement your retirement income or help provide for a child's education.

What kind of death benefits are provided to spouses whose sponsor dies while on active duty?

Family members of military personnel who die on active duty are eligible to receive several types of federal benefits. These benefits are paid to the surviving spouse and children regardless of economic need, except in the case of a nonservice-connected death pension where certain restrictions apply. These death benefits may include (but are not limited to): a death gratuity (lump sum amount to help survivors meet any immediate expenses incurred); Service member’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI); the Soldier’s unpaid pay and allowances; the ability to continue occupying government housing for a period of 180 days (provided the member’s death was in the line-of-duty) or the comparable Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) during that time if the family is not residing in government housing; Social Security benefits, as well as certain medical benefits, educational benefits and base privileges that may be extended to the surviving spouse and/or family members. Contact the nearest Army Casualty Assistance Office for more information.

Who is eligible for Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI)?

Those eligible for VGLI include: most individuals who had Service members Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and are being released from active duty; members of the Ready Reserves insured under SGLI who are being separated or released from drilling assignment, service members assigned to the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) or the Inactive National Guard (ING); members of the Public Health Service (PHS) or Inactive Reserve Corps (IRC); or members who had part-time SGLI and who, while on duty (or traveling directly to or from duty), suffered an injury or disability that rendered them uninsurable at standard premium rates.

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