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Can My Son Qualify for Both Post 9/11 G.I. Bill And DEA Benefits?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q:My children received DEA or Chapter 35 benefits for schooling because their father was deceased while in active duty. Since then my son has become a veteran in his own right. Is he entitled to the remaining DEA through father and Post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefits via his own active duty service? Thanks.

A: Yes he probably is entitled to both benefits. Generally speaking, if you qualify for more than one G.I. Bill program, you can only get a maximum of 48 months of combined education benefit. Under the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program (DEA), he probably received up to 45 months. Under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, he could get up to 36 months.

By going on active duty, your son’s DEA eligibility period was extended by the length of his service plus four months and he has 15 years from his date of discharge to use his Post 9/11 G.I. Bill.

If your son is at the 100% tier level under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, the VA pays his school directly for his tuition and fees, up to the in-state maximum. Your son would get a housing allowance based on the E-5-with-dependents rate for the school’s zip code and up to $1,000 per year book stipend. If he is at a lesser tier level, then the VA only pays based on the percentage at his tier level. The maximum current rate of pay for DEA benefits is $925 per month and your son has to pay his own tuition.

Finally, one thing to watch is if your son switches to the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill now, he will only get the number of months he has left on his DEA benefit. If he has a considerable number of DEA months left, it might pay more to switch now and use those remaining months getting paid under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill and not worry about trying to get those extra three months.  Keep in mind, once he switches to the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, he won’t have any DEA benefits left to use.

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