The Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance Act of 1954 (FEGLIA) establishes an insurance program for federal employees. FEGLIA permits an employee to name a beneficiary of life insurance proceeds, and specifies an “order of precedence” providing that an employee’s death benefits accrue first to that beneficiary ahead of other potential recipients.The proceeds accrue first, to the beneficiary or beneficiaries designated by the employee in a signed and witnessed writing received before death.If there is no designated beneficiary, the benefits are paid to the widow or widower of the employee. Absent a widow or widower, the benefits accrue to the child or children of the employee and descendants of the deceased children; the parents of the employee or their survivors; the executor or administrator of the estate of the employee; and last, to other next of kin.To be effective, the beneficiary designation and any accompanying revisions to it must be in writing and duly filed with the Government. (A designation, change, or cancellation of beneficiary in a will or other document not so executed and filed has no force or effect).

The FEGLI program covers over 4 million Federal employees and retirees, as well as many of their family members. Most federal government employees are eligible for FEGLI coverage. FEGLI provides group term life insurance. New Federal employees are automatically guaranteed Basic life insurance coverage and premiums will be automatically deducted from employees’ paychecks unless they opt out. The Office of Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (OFEGLI), which is a private entity that has a contract with the Federal Government, processes and pays claims under the FEGLI Program.

Has Your FEGLI Claim Been Denied?

In 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States heard a case where an ex-spouse and the surviving spouse both filed competing claims for an FEGLI policy benefits. In Hillman v. Maretta, the decedent named his then-wife Maretta as the sole primary beneficiary of $125,000 in life insurance proceeds.  Later he divorced Maretta and married Hillman. The insured never changed the beneficiary designation and the ex-spouse remained the only person entitled to the benefits under the policy. After the insured’s death, both the surviving spouse and the ex-spouse filed competing claims. Under Virginia state law, the claim would be payable to the surviving spouse because the first wife’s beneficiary designation was automatically revoked upon divorce. Under FEGLIA, however, ex-spouse, as the person named in the policy, is entitled to the benefits despite a conflicting state law. The administrator of the policy paid the proceeds to the ex-wife.

The Supreme Court stated the state law was preempted by FEGLIA and the ex-wife correctly received the death benefit.  Justice Sotomayor wrote, “where a beneficiary has been duly named, the insurance proceeds she is owed under FEGLIA cannot be allocated to another person by operation of state law.”

No Legal Fees Unless We Win Your Case!

If you have questions about a denied FEGLI claim, call our firm for a free consultation. Our attorneys work on a contingent fee basis. It means that we do not charge legal fees unless we collect the life insurance proceeds for you. Only then will we charge a reasonable legal fee. We take pride in offering competitive contingent fee structures and will work with you to ensure you are comfortable with the fee.  If your claim has been denied or delayed, call our life insurance lawyers for help. We have the experience you can trust.