By Margaret SteeleFebruary 4, 2010
FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- A Fort Belvoir director is urging servicemembers to check their bi-weekly Leave and Earnings Statement to make sure they are, in fact, getting the SGLI benefit they are paying for and that they are paying for the insurance to which they believe they're entitled.
Joe Panteloglous, director of human resources, said a recent study of the system indicated there was a systematic, Army-wide problem with some servicemembers' SGLI accounts.
It could be a human or computer error in processing, locally or at Defense Financing and Accounting Service. "The glitch could happen anywhere," Panteloglous added.
Panteloglous said mistakes have been found in both the coverage requested and premiums deducted from servicemembers' pay and suggested servicemembers compare their LES deductions for SGLI to the coverage they think they're getting.
Panteloglous said new servicemembers who sign for coverage during basic training typically receive the maximum amount of coverage - $400,000 of term life insurance for $27 a month. "They have to manually choose anything less than $400,000 of coverage," he said.
SGLI, Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, is a low-cost benefit for active-duty, Ready Reservists, National Guard members, the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Public Health Service, cadets and midshipmen of the four service academies; and members of the Reserve Officer Training Corps.
"The money can help with whatever the surviving family needs after a servicemember's death," Panteloglous said. "What's left of a mortgage, children's education costs, funeral costs."
"Insurance is a personal choice," he said. "However, for servicemembers who decline the benefit entirely, their commander is notified and he or she should have a counseling session with the servicemember."
Diana Franco, a human resources specialist at the Directorate of Human Resources, urged Soldiers and other servicemembers to keep their records current, especially if he or she has had a big life change. "For instance, if they get married or divorced, increase their family size, PCS, deploy, whatever."
Franco also reminded people about the process of naming beneficiaries for insurance claims. "By law, if no name is listed as a beneficiary, then the benefit, upon the servicemember's death, goes to the spouse. What if they were divorced five years before the death, but the insurance-beneficiary paperwork was not up-to-date'
"Benefits have gone to other people because servicemembers haven't made changes. Everyone should update immediately. They must make the time, 10 or 15 minutes, on average, for something so important," Franco said.
Franco also suggested everyone check their LES and go to military personnel division in Bldg. 213. "No appointment is necessary for something this important," she said.