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FEGLIA Preempts Conflicting State Law.

 

The Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance Act of 1954 (FEGLIA) establishes a life insurance program for federal employees. Since FEGLIA is a federal statute, it includes an express pre-emption provision which provides that the provisions of any contract under FEGLIA which relate to the nature or extent of coverage or benefits (including payments with respect to benefits) shall supersede and preempt any law of any state, which relates to group life insurance to the extent that law or regulation is inconsistent with the contractual provisions.

 

FEGLIA Controls Who Will Receive FEGLI Benefits.

 

FEGLIA provides that an employee may designate a beneficiary to receive the proceeds of his life insurance at the time of his death and that, upon an employee’s death, life insurance benefits are paid in accordance with a specified order of precedence. Proceeds under a FEGLI policy accrue first to the beneficiary designated by the employee in a signed and witnessed writing received before death. If there is no designation on file, benefits will be paid in the order of precedence. If an insured individual wants benefits paid differently from the order of precedence, he/she must file a designation of beneficiary. A designation of beneficiary cannot be filed by anyone other than the insured individual.

 

To be effective, the beneficiary designation and any accompanying revisions to it must be in writing, witnessed and signed by two people and duly submitted to the appropriate office via appropriate methods approved by the employing office. The appropriate office must receive the designation before the death of the insured.

 

FEGLI Beneficiary Designation in a Will is Invalid.

 

A designation, change, or cancellation of beneficiary in a will or any other document not witnessed and filed as required by law has no legal effect with respect to benefits under FEGLIA. FEGLIA is unequivocal about the fact that the only valid way in which a covered employee can designate or change the beneficiary of his or her life insurance benefits is by filling out and signing the appropriate form, and submitting it with the signatures of two impartial witnesses to the employing office.

 

The legislative history of FEGLIA demonstrates that Congress intended to establish an inflexible rule that a beneficiary must be named strictly in accordance with a statute, irrespective of the equities in a particular case. The law requires strict technical compliance with the requirements of the statute. FEGLIA creates a scheme that gives highest priority to an insured’s designated beneficiary. FEGLIA’s implementing regulations further underscore that the employee’s right of designation cannot be waived or restricted.

 

A Beneficiary Designation Not in Compliance with FEGLIA is Invalid.

 

Many people whose FEGLI claims have been denied have questions about whether the denial was appropriate. A FEGLI attorney specializing in life insurance claim denials will work with you on investigating the case and determining whether FEGLI benefits were wrongfully denied. Many FEGLI claims are denied due to beneficiary designation forms completed not in compliance with FEGLIA. Whether you can appeal the denial of FEGLI benefits depends on the specifics of your situation. Have a consultation with a FEGLI lawyer if your claim has been denied.

 

An Insured Individual May Change Beneficiaries Without the Consent of the Previous Beneficiary.

 

A FEGLI insured may change his/her beneficiary at any time without the knowledge or consent of the previous beneficiary. This right cannot be waived or restricted. Under the law, the proceeds of a FEGLI policy belong to the named beneficiary and no other. It means that the most recent beneficiary designation, if valid, will control in a life insurance beneficiary dispute. Our FEGLI attorneys will help you understand whether the beneficiary designation on file is valid and whether you are entitled to FEGLI benefits.

 

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