Not updating DEERS could cost you dearly.
"When I call a dual-military family, the usual response is, 'I've already updated my service record.' Most Sailors assume that changing their Record of Emergency Data (Page 2) will automatically update their DEERS status. It doesn't," said Pamela Thomas, customer service representative at NPC. "They are two separate data systems. The Page 2 is a [Department of the Navy] data input and DEERS is for DoD.
"Many Sailors aren't aware of this difference," said Thomas.
"It's an accountability issue," said Cmdr. Reginald Edge, director of Pay, Personnel and Benefits Branch, Bureau of Naval Personnel.
Upon entering the Navy, a Sailor automatically receives Service Members Group Life Insurance (SGLI) coverage. When that Sailor marries or has a child, the spouse or child is automatically enrolled in Family Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (FSGLI). Both are immediate benefits that start when the service members update their Page 2 or opt to decline coverage.
"On a small scale, if our Navy system shows 100 spouses being covered by FSGLI but only 80 are enrolled in DEERS, we have a problem," said Edge. "DOD is paying for 20 families that it hasn't accounted for. Now on a larger scale, we're not talking about hundreds of spouses, it is thousands, and we're spending millions that could be better appropriated."
The cost is passed onto Sailors as a debt that DoD will collect.
FSGLI is a program extended to the spouses and children of service members insured under the SGLI program. FSGLI provides up to a maximum of $100,000 of insurance coverage for spouses, not to exceed the amount of SGLI the insured member has in force, and $10,000 for dependent children.
"The issue of accountability for our dual-military couples is that these couples upon marriage already have identification cards because both are active duty. This means they don't necessarily go into a DEERS site at Personnel Support Detachment or Pass and ID to receive the benefits associated with a new card," said Kathy Wardlaw, DEERS policy analyst, Bureau of Naval Personnel.
"This is where we feel the oversight happens. Most Sailors will update their Page 2 to add their military spouse. And, that's when the automatic enrollment in FSGLI starts; unless the Sailor declines coverage in writing, they are responsible for that premium."
The cost to the average Sailor is $5.50 per month for a spouse under 35. That's $66 annually. If the dual-military couple has been married for 5 years, $330 is owed in back premiums for each member.
Sailors must update DEERS within 60 days of any life-changing event such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child or adoption. Failure to do so could result in breaks in eligibility for that family.
For more information on FSGLI coverage, visit http://www.npc.navy.mil/CommandSupport/CasualtyAssistance/FSGLI/, or call 1-866-U-ASK-NPC.
Story by MC2(AW) LaTunya Howard, Navy Personnel Command, Millington, Tenn.
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|Title Annotation:||Around the Fleet; Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2008|
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