As of Oct. 1, servicemembers who suffered a qualifying loss due to a traumatic event occurring outside of Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) can now take advantage of benefit payments thanks to the Veterans Benefits Act of 2010. This legislation expands the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection Program(TSGLI).
Originally, TSGLI benefits were payable to all servicemembers who suffered losses resulting from injuries incurred on or after Dec. 1, 2005 and those who suffered losses due to injuries incurred between Oct. 7, 2001 and Nov. 30, 2005 if they were deployed in support of OEF/OIF.
The expansion of TSGLI has truly made an impact on those who now qualify. Take for instance, Anthony Radetic, a combat Veteran who served as an Army Blackhawk Helicopter pilot and a member of Special Forces. Anthony was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident in 2004 while stationed at Fort Rucker, Ala. Although his injuries left him with complete paralysis of both legs, Anthony was not eligible to receive a payment under TSGLI at the time.
The Veterans Benefits Act of 2010 removes the geographic requirement that losses incurred during the retroactive period must have occurred while serving in support of OEF/OIF. This means servicemembers like Anthony who incurred losses out of theater during the retroactive period may be eligible to receive a benefit of $25,000 to $100,000.
When Anthony was told that he would be eligible for benefits as a result of his loss, he responded, “This is awesome news, it doesn’t get much better than that!” Anthony received his benefit in early October, just shortly after the TSGLI expansion went into effect.
Although Anthony was on active duty when his injury occurred, National Guard and Reserve members who suffered qualifying losses during the retroactive period are also eligible for TSGLI, even if their injuries were not related to military service. Even a reservist who suffered a loss as a result of a car accident while driving to a restaurant with his family may qualify for TSGLI benefits.
To be eligible to receive a TSGLI benefit, you must meet all of the following requirements:
- If injured on or after December 1, 2005, you must be insured by SGLI when you experience a traumatic event. For those injured between October 7, 2001 and November 30, 2005, SGLI coverage is not required to be eligible for TSGLI.
- You must incur a scheduled loss and that loss must be a direct result of a traumatic injury.
- You must have suffered the traumatic injury prior to midnight of the day that you separate from the uniformed services.
- You must suffer a scheduled loss within two years (730 days) of the traumatic injury.
- You must survive for a period of not less than seven full days from the date of the traumatic injury. (The seven-day period begins on the date and time of the traumatic injury, as measured by Zulu [Greenwich Meridian] time and ends 168 full hours later).
As for Anthony, he hasn’t slowed down one bit despite his injuries. He recently participated in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games and has been very active in the National Disabled Veterans Winter and Summer Sports Clinics. He is a true testament to the resiliency of our Nation’s Soldiers.
To learn more and find out if you are eligible to receive a TSGLI benefit, please visit: http://www.insurance.va.gov/sgliSite/TSGLI/TSGLI.htm.