Today, Congressman Joe Donnelly introduced The Disabled Veterans Life Insurance Enhancement Act, which would make long overdue changes to an existing life insurance program that covers veterans with service-connected disabilities.
"We have a responsibility to care for our veterans and their surviving loved ones," Donnelly said. "That's why I want to update the outdated life insurance program that currently covers our disabled servicemen and women."
Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) was created in 1951 to provide life insurance to disabled veterans who, because of their service-connected disabilities, would be unable to obtain life insurance on the commercial market or would be required to pay especially high premiums. Currently, S-DVI policies are issued for a maximum face amount of only $10,000, an amount that has not been updated for 58 years. Additionally, the current mortality tables are almost 70 years old.
The Disabled Veterans Life Insurance Enhancement Act would enhance the S-DVI by increasing the maximum protection under base policies from $10,000 to $100,000 and offering an open period for eligible service-connected disabled veterans to apply for coverage if they are not currently enrolled in the life insurance program.
In addition, Donnelly's legislation would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to revise its premium schedule to reflect current mortality tables, and it would increase the supplemental coverage for veterans who have been rated 100 percent service-connected disabled from $20,000 to $50,000.
"The average burial is about $6,500," said Elkhart County Veterans Service Officer Gary Whitehead. "If that disabled vet only has $10,000, that doesn't leave much for his loved ones."
"Congressman Donnelly's lean-forward support of veterans is to be lauded," said Lieutenant Colonel John L. Wilson (Ret.), Associate National Legislative Director of Disabled American Veterans. "The legislation that he has crafted takes S-DVI, the only type of insurance that some veterans could even obtain, and brings it into the 21st century. This bill transforms this insurance from little more than a burial policy to coverage that truly provides for the welfare and assistance of those left behind."
The legislation currently has 10 co-sponsors: Congressman Arcuri, Congressman Bilirakis, Congressman Boozman, Congressman Ellsworth, Congressman John Hall, Congresswoman Herseth-Sandlin, Congressman Hill, Congressman Space, Congressman Souder and Congressman Upton.
A similar bill, The Veterans' Insurance and Benefits Enhancement Act of 2009, is currently pending in the Senate.