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VA Proposes New Rule to Expand Coverage for Veterans and Troops Injured During Service

Monday, August 31, 2020

Traumatic brain injuries, heatstroke, and cold-weather injuries are among the list of service-connected injuries proposed for coverage under a new rule from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The proposed rule would expand insurance benefits to veterans and troops suffering from an array of injuries.

First proposed by the VA in 2018, the rule’s targeting expansion is directed at the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI). The rule would allow for those previously denied to request reviews of their cases, where “new and material evidence” is applicable.

TSGLI is an insurance program that provides short-term financial support to severely injured service members. The participants are protected for up to $100,000 for covered injuries.

For a given veteran or active service member to be covered by TSGLI, they must satisfy the following parameters:
Insured by SGLI when injury occurs
Your injury must cause a loss that is covered by the policy
You must have suffered the traumatic injury while in the service
You must suffer a scheduled loss within 2 years of the traumatic injury
You must survive for a period of not less than seven full days from the date of the traumatic injury

The proposed rule change was outlined in a Federal Notice from the VA and is opened for public comment until mid-October. Unfortunately, there is some uncertainty around when the rule change would take effect.

Among the new injuries covered by the rule change are service related traumatic injuries from shock waves of improvised explosive devices, accidental ingestion of a contaminated substance or injuries as a result of exposure to extremely high or low temperatures, insect stings and animal bites, and traumatic injuries caused by diagnostic or medical procedures that were used to treat other service-related injuries.
The rule put forth by the VA also includes minor changes regarding the way in which claims are made by active service members and veterans. This includes the implementation of a three-tiered process in which Veterans must submit their appeals not to the VA, but to their prior branch of service. The appeal then moves up to the given branch’s chain of command.

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