Father disqualified from receiving SGLI benefits

In Prudential v. Grohman, federal judge William Jung of the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, considered a case of parents convicted of child abuse felonies in connection with the death of their child. The court ruled that neither parent was entitled to the benefit.

The father was a servicemember in the US Army. He purchased Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) coverage on his infant child. The infant died of what was ruled a homicide caused by seizures resulting from head injuries. The father pled guilty in Tennessee to aggravated child abuse, causing bodily injury.

The court ruled that the father was not eligible to receive the benefits, citing 38 CFR Section 9.5:

(e)(1) The proceeds payable because of the death of an individual insured under Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance or Veterans' Group Life Insurance (“decedent”) shall not be payable to any person described in paragraph (e)(2) of this section. A Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection benefit payable under § 9.20(j)(3) shall not be payable to any person described in paragraph (e)(2) of this section.

(2) The persons described in this paragraph are:

(i) A person who is convicted of intentionally and wrongfully killing the decedent or determined in a civil proceeding to have intentionally and wrongfully killed the decedent;

(ii) A person who is convicted of assisting or aiding, or determined in a civil proceeding to have assisted or aided, a person described in paragraph (e)(2)(i) of this section; and

(iii) A member of the family of a person described in paragraph (e)(2)(i) or (e)(2)(ii) of this section who is not related to the decedent by blood, legal adoption, or marriage.

The court then awarded the SGLI policy proceeds to the grandmother of the deceased infant.