Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance (S-DVI)

Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance provides life insurance coverage to veterans with a service-connected disability as designated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Totally disabled veterans are eligible for free coverage.

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Rebecca Shoenthal

Rebecca Shoenthal

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius. Her insights about life insurance and finance have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, The Balance, HerMoney, SBLI, and John Hancock.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides life insurance benefits to American veterans with disabilities, known as Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance (S-DVI). This financial protection is similar to the benefits provided to all military members while they serve, known as Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI).

S-DVI is a type of government-sponsored life insurance not available through private insurance companies or brokers like Policygenius. However, those with less severe disabilities may be eligible for traditional life insurance, which can provide more coverage at cheaper rates. Read on to learn more about eligibility requirements, benefit options, and how to apply for S-DVI. 

Key Takeaways

  • Disabled veterans are eligible for up to $10,000 of Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance (S-DVI) through the VA.

  • Premiums are waived for totally disabled veterans who have the option to purchase supplemental coverage.

  • Eligibility for S-DVI depends on your rating for a service-connected disability from the VA.

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs recommends that veterans shopping for life insurance compare rates through private insurers.

Who is eligible for Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance (S-DVI)?

Veterans must meet the following four requirements to qualify for S-DVI:

  1. Rated for a service-connected disability by the VA

  2. Good health except for any service-connected conditions

  3. Released from active duty under honorable or other approved conditions on or after April 25, 1951

  4. Application submitted within two years from the date your new service-connected disability was granted by the VA

If your service-connected disability was confirmed more than two years ago, you may not qualify for this type of life insurance. The Disabled Veterans Life Insurance Act of 2017 was introduced to extend the filling and enrollment eligibility date from two years to 10 years after the VA determines that a disability is service-connected, but it has not yet passed. [1]  

However, if your disability is less severe or your overall health is less affected by your service-related disability, you may qualify for life insurance coverage through a traditional insurance company. Insurers determine your health in part through a medical exam, which is similar to an annual physical. 

The VA recommends comparing their rates with those from different insurers to determine the best insurance plan for your needs. Reach out to a Policygenius agent for free to learn more. 

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How do I enroll in S-DVI?

After you’ve compared rates and if you’ve decided to enroll in life insurance through the VA, you can do so via mail, phone, or the VA website.

Department of Veteran Affairs disability ratings

The VA determines disability ratings by percentages, which range from 0% to 100% in 10% increments. [2] Someone with a 10% rating is considered less severely disabled than someone with a 100% rating, who is considered totally disabled. It’s possible to have a combined rating, which means you have more than one disability. 

Disability ratings are used to figure out your veteran compensation in addition to determining S-DVI eligibility. 

Other than honorable (OTH), bad conduct, or dishonorable discharge

If you have a discharge designation that is OTH, bad conduct, or dishonorable, then you will not qualify for S-DVI. Those who leave the military with an honorable discharge, general discharge under honorable conditions, entry-level separation, medical separation, and separation for convenience of the government are eligible for coverage. 

Veterans can try to update their discharge status through the Department of Veterans Affairs

What life insurance benefits are available with S-DVI?

Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance offers up to $10,000 of base coverage and up to $30,000 of supplemental (or additional) coverage. 

The basic S-DVI program is commonly referred to as “RH Insurance” because policies are issued with the letters “RH” in front of the policy name. 

The VA offers nine different policy options, including term life and permanent life policies. Several policies include cash value components

Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance coverage options

Plan                        Cash value Premium features                             Other features                                                                      
Five-year level premium termNo         Increasing premiums every five years          Automatically renews every five years, with option to convert to a permanent policy 
Modified life at age 65     Yes        Level premiums                                Must apply before age 61 & coverage is cut in half before age 65                    
Modified life at age 70     Yes        Level premiums                                Must apply before age 70 & coverage is cut in half before age 70                    
Ordinary life               Yes        Level premiums                                No face value reduction                                                             
20-payment life             Yes        Level premium for 20 years & no premiums afterNo face value reduction                                                             
30-payment life             Yes        Level premium for 30 years & no premiums afterNo face value reduction                                                             
20-year endowment           Yes        Level premium for 20 years                    Coverage expires after 20 years & insured receives face value minus loans           
Endowment at age 60         Yes        Level premiums up to age 60                   Coverage expires at age 60 & insured receives face value minus loans                
Endowment at age 65         Yes        Level premiums up to age 65                   Coverage expires at age 65 & insured receives face value minus loans                

Information courtesy of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance RH Information and Premium Rates. Last revised in July 2021. 

RH Insurance policies are non-participating, which means no dividends are paid to the insured for cash value policies. Policyholders pay premiums in exchange for a tax-free death benefit for their loved ones if they die while the policy is in force

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How much does Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance cost?

S-DVI is generally affordable because the face value is lower. Policygenius experts recommend enough life insurance to cover your financial obligations and outstanding debts, which is generally 10 to 15 times your income. However, veterans who are older or retired probably do not need as much life insurance

Take a look at the VA’s most recent guide to premium rates for S-DVI. Each plan of insurance has a different cost. Your rates will depend on how much life insurance you want, your age, and which plan you choose. For example, a 51-year-old veteran seeking $10,000 of coverage can expect to pay $25.70 per month.

Premium waivers

If you have been totally disabled from any service-related condition for at least six months and are under the age of 65, the VA will waive premiums. If you are no longer totally disabled, you will have to cover the cost of premiums for any S-DVI policy. 

If you're not sure where to start or are wondering whether a private life insurance policy is right for you, reach out to a Policygenius agent for free to learn more. Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance (S-DVI) isn't always the most comprehensive choice for those with less severe service-connected disabilities.

Frequently asked questions

Do disabled veterans get free life insurance?

Totally disabled veterans are eligible for free Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance through the VA up to $10,000. Veterans who are not totally disabled must pay premiums for life insurance through the VA. 

How much life insurance do disabled veterans get?

S-DVI provides up to $10,000 of base coverage with the option to buy additional coverage up to $30,000.

What is the best life insurance for disabled veterans?

There are nine policy options available for disabled veterans through the VA, but veterans who have less severe disabilities may get competitive life insurance coverage through a traditional insurer.