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Can I Transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits After I Retire to a Child Not Born Yet While Serving?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have a question about the transfer of benefits to dependents based on somewhat unique circumstances & dates. I’m a commissioned officer, having started OTS on 19 Aug 2002 (my pay date) and commissioning on 8 Nov 2002. However, I am expecting to be involuntarily separated (under honorable conditions, due to failure to be promoted) in 31 Jul 2012 or 31 Aug 2012. So you can see I might make the 10 years of service by about 10 days if I can make it to August. My transfer request date was 30 Nov 2010, prior to any of the promotion boards, and my obligation end date is 29 Nov 2014. Obviously, if I am involuntarily separated, I can’t reach 2014. So my questions are: 1) Based on these dates, if I am not separated until Aug 2012 will my dependents get to keep these benefits? 2) Same scenario, but if I have another child (let’s say in July 2012) after my date of separation is established (let’s say March 2012) but before I leave active duty (on 31 Aug 2012), will I be able to add that child to the list beneficiaries? I can’t find clarification for adding dependents to existing transfers after a date of separation is established prior to the obligation end date.

A: The way the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of benefits rules read, it says if you “had at least 10 years of service in the Armed Forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of your transfer request approval, and are precluded by either standard policy (Service or DoD) or statute from committing to 4 additional years, and agree to serve for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute”, your dependents should be able to keep their benefits.

My concern is the “had at least 10 years of service in the Armed Forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of your transfer request approval . . .” part. Your transfer request date was in November 2010, so your approval date was most likely at the end of 2010 or early in 2011 at which point you only had a little over 8 years of service. Based on this policy, I think your dependent benefits could be in jeopardy, but the final decision will have to be made by the VA.

What I can tell you about transferring benefits to a child after separating is that if you had not previously transferred benefits to that child while still serving, you can’t make a transfer to him/her after you have retired. The way the transfer rules read, to get a transfer request approved, you have to be currently serving at the time you make the request. So if the child has not been born yet while you are still serving, then you can’t make a request yet.

What you can do after retiring though is to manage any transferred benefits you have made while still serving. For example after you retire, if one child will not use the benefits you transferred to him or her, you can revoke those benefits and either use them yourself or transfer them to another child already having received transferred benefits.

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