Mental Health & The Military
We all knew what we were getting into, right?
Isn’t that what most people tell us when we are venting about how tough things are?
The thing is most of us(service members, spouses & veterans) really didn’t. Not that we aren’t committed to the mission or anything. Even though most of the time we lose sight of what the mission actually is.
It’s just that, we didn’t quite understand all the intricacies o serving as a military family. As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”
Military members, spouses and veterans all have their unique struggles regarding mental health. It’s important to know how these can affect your eligibility for life insurance so that you can plan accordingly. No one truly knows when a mental health condition can come about or what exactly might trigger it’s onset.
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Depression and anxiety are more common in the military community than you might know.
Especially overlooked is how many spouses are plagued with these mental health conditions.
Before we dive too deep into the subject we need to get one thing clear, it’s OK to suffer from these conditions. One of the main reasons people have such a hard time finding treatment is the stigma that comes along with making it known you are suffering.
Military Family Lifestyle Survey
Let’s quickly review a few statistics from Blue Star Families 8th Annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey to get a better understanding of why some suffer from mental illness.
According to the 2017 survey:
- 51% of families feel they don’t belong in their local, civilian communities.
- 40% of service members had experienced more than six months of separation from their families in the past 18 months.
- 28% of spouses indicated they were unemployed and actively seeking work
- 30% of military caregivers indicated they were unemployed and actively seeking work and 43% reported debt reduction was their top financial goal
My Family History
Mental health is particularly familiar topic to me as my immediate family members struggle with illnesses. I’ve also had my own seasons of suffering throughout my young adult life. I found that the challenges of being a military spouses often trigger onsets of anxiety and depression.
I believe that the military community does and excellent job at coping with the challenges we face together as whole. While there is still a lot of work to do as a society to address the mental health epidemics, it seems we are making progress.
Life Insurance Qualification
Due to the fact that I am not only a military spouse, but a life insurance professional, I’m writing this post with a specific focus on how life insurance qualification is affected when an individual suffers from mental health conditions.
When applying for life insurance companies will ask a set of medical questions and run a prescription history report that usually goes back about 5-10 years.
Almost all life insurance applications have a question that address mental health treatments. They usually ask the date of diagnosis and whether or not someone has been hospitalized in the last 1-2 years.
When it comes to medications for mental health, carriers will look at the type and dosage. Some medications are less concerning than others. The biggest factor for life insurance qualification is the combination of medications.
As a rule of thumb 3 or more medications will likely not be approved. Medications also determine the rate class at which an individual will be approved. The preferred class tiers usually require no medications.
Life insurance carriers will look at the type of depression an individual suffers from. They’ll consider factors like whether or not they are working or receiving disability. They will also look at whether or no the depression situational.
If someone is suffering from depression due to a divorce or loss of a loved one while maintaining their employment it is likely they will be approved.
Similar to depression, carriers will look at whether or not an individual is able to carry on daily tasks. They’ll try an determine how much their anxiety interferes.
Regarding medications, someone with mild anxiety that takes 1-2 prescriptions can expected an approval at a standard rate class. This is just a class or two higher than excellent or preferred and better than having additional tables added to a rate.
Life insurance carriers have about 14 rate tables they can add to increase the price based on a person’s risk profile. Getting approved at excellent, preferred, standard plus and standard are all very affordable rate classes.
Chances are you have heard of this condition if you’re in the military community. PTSD is actually one of the biggest reasons why veterans who are exiting the service need to participate in the VGLI life insurance. They often cannot qualify for anything else. While this makes me just as upset as you are right now, I understand why the life insurance companies have to have it this way.
PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As an agent, I’ve talked with many consumers, military and civilian, who suffer from this illness.
Life insurance carriers take this very seriously. Their main concern is the risk someone will commit suicide. More so than the other conditions we have discussed thus far. It is not very likely someone with PTSD will get approved for a policy.
In order to determine eligibility companies will look at the following:
- Employment – Is someone working full or part time?
- Disability – Are they receiving disability aka SSI? They’ll also ask about disability an individual has related to their military service. Having VA benefits while holding a full time job increases chances of approval.
- Hospitalization – Has someone has had a hospitalization related to their PTSD.
- Medications – What type of medications are being prescribed and how many? Nightmare medications seem to be a big concern for life insurance companies when reviewing these risk profiles.
- Alcohol – Does this person drink? If so, how often? It’s best that someone refrains from drinking at all if they are trying to obtain life insurance with PTSD.
Doing the best you can to take care of yourself mentally and physically should be a priority. You can’t be of service to others when you are barely holding it together on the inside. I know military life is tough and we all have challenges that sometimes seem impossible.
Be educated about the risk factors for developing mental health conditions and utilize the resources we have as a military family. Secure supplemental life insurance sooner than later to ensure you can qualify for affordable coverage.
Most importantly, have faith and take a walk! Getting outside and moving around can do wonders for your brain and soul. You are a strong and beautiful person. The world needs your unique gifts and talents.