Servicemember Life Plan To Cover Stillborn Children

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is extending Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance dependent coverage to an insured member's stillborn child.

The VA will apply the new rule retroactively, to fetal deaths occurring on or after Oct. 10, 2008, officials write in a preamble to the proposed regulations, which are set to be published in the Federal Register Wednesday.

The VA developed the regulations to implement Section 402 of the Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2008.

The Veterans' Survivor Benefits Improvements Act of 2001 created a program that permits servicemembers to use SGLI coverage to insure their dependents.

In the 2001 law, "stillborn children were not eligible for coverage under SGLI as insurable dependents," officials write.

Section 402 of VBIA has defined a servicemembers' stillborn child as an insurable dependent.

The VA has defined a stillborn child as "a member's natural child whose death occurs before expulsion, extraction, or delivery and: (1) whose fetal weight is 350 grams or more; or (2) if the fetal weight is unknown, whose duration in utero was 20 or more completed weeks of gestation, calculated from the date the last normal 3 menstrual period began to the date of expulsion, extraction, or delivery."

The definition excludes a fetus or child extracted for purposes of an abortion.

A child who is born alive but dies shortly after birth is already a dependent covered under SGLI, officials note.

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