Federal Employees Group Life Insurance, FEGLI, claims are very different than most life insurance claims, and there are different laws that control these claims. The Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Act, as known as FEGLIA, is the starting point. The Act, signed by President Eisenhower provided for group life insurance for most federal employees, and it is the largest group life program in the US with over four million federal employees, retirees and family members, as well as NASA employees.
FEGLI Beneficiary Change
A FEGLI beneficiary change form must be signed in front of 2 witnesses, who also sign the form to be submitted and approved by the Office of Personnel Management, OPM, before the death of the insured. There are many issues that come up with respect to the change form. Our lawyers have won these beneficiary disputes one hundred percent of the time.
No FEGLI Designated Beneficiary
The laws governing FEGLI claims are complex, and rather convoluted, and disputes arise from beneficiary designations. Typically, the money is first paid to the widow / widower, if none, then to the parents, if none, to the administrator or executor, if none, to the next of kin.
FEGLI Beneficiary Change and Divorce
FEGLI claims can be complicated if there has been a divorce. There are conflicts of law to resolve, and state community property laws often conflict with federal laws that may preempt the state laws.
We had a client who was the wife of a civilian employee of the federal government, and MetLife under the FEGLI program failed to pay the death benefits to our client, which included a $300,000 policy, as well as a $100,000 AD&D accidental death policy. We were able to get the full $400,000 paid to our client with interest.
There was a divorce decree which specified that life insurance was supposed to be maintained on the first wife, and she claimed that she was entitled to the benefits. Our client, the second wife, came to us to fight this. We were able to resolve this, and get our client the full amount of policy.
We had a client that came to us with a FEGLI beneficiary dispute. The deceased individual’s new wife claimed that a form was signed, sent in, and accepted, and that she was the new and primary beneficiary to this FEGLI life insurance policy. Our FEGLI lawyers were able to argue this new beneficiary change was invalid, and our client got the full amount of the FEGLI policy.
We had a case in which the deceased spouse didn’t change the designation of the first wife. This was another case in which we had a state statute in conflict with a right and procedure under FEGLI. Issues included whether a right as asserted conflicts with express terms of federal law, whether the consequences injure the objectives of the federal program, and whether the equitable cause of action with respect to state law stands as an obstacle to FEGLI. We were able to get our client the full FEGLI policy.
An assignment of rights of a FEGLI life insurance policy by the children to the new wife was contested by the first wife, and our denied FEGLI claim attorneys were able to get our client, the new wife, the full policy amount.
Another recent case was an interpleader action in which the deceased put his second wife as the beneficiary of his FEGLI life insurance policy, and the first wife contested it. We got out client, the second wife, the full policy amount in less than a week.
A FEGLI claim was denied due to the wrong beneficiary change form sent in. We were able to quickly resolve this within a couple weeks for our client.
We had a denied FEGLI case in which the wife was trying to get a constructive trust set up on the Federal Employee Group Life Insurance policy proceeds due to extreme wrongdoing, however, we were able to stop this, and get our client the full policy amount.