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VA expands veterans’ benefits

By Pvt. Daniel T. Boothe | | December 12, 2008

More veterans are now eligible for benefits under the Traumatic Service member’s Group Life Insurance after the Department of Veteran Affairs announced improvements to policy, Dec. 8.

Designed to benefit severely injured military personnel and veterans, the congressionally-mandated program has expanded qualifying categories and increased the number of injuries covered.

The program was created to relieve some of the financial burdens on injured military personnel and their families," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. We believe these enhancements to the TSGLI program have made a good program even better, he said.

The announcement came in response to a comprehensive review conducted by the VA on the insurance policy. The purpose of the review was to determine whether the program was operating effectively or if improvements were needed.

As a result of the review, service member eligibility was simplified allowing for easier interpretation by the general public, according to Human Resources Command officials.

Another important policy improvement includes the $25,000 to $100,000 tax-free payments to service members for each traumatic physical injury experienced or 15-day hospital stay incurred.

More than $309 million in TSGLI benefits have been paid to injured military personnel and their families since the policy’s creation in 2005, according to VA’s official Web site.

The financial support is designed to offset expenses a service member’s parents or spouse accumulates moving to be with their loved one during the difficult treatment and rehabilitation periods. Friends and family will often have to quit their job and move to the location where the service member is receiving medical treatment.

The TSGLI benefit expansion helps us further the mission and spirit of the program, said Col. John F. Sackett, chief of staff, TSGLI branch, Human Resource Command.  With these changes, we can offer assistance to more men and women who have so bravely served our country, he added.

Veterans whose claims for TSGLI benefits were previously disallowed are being contacted if it appears their loss is now eligible for payment due to these changes.

For additional information, contact the VA at (800) 827-1000 or by logging onto the VA’s Web site at  www.va.gov/opa.