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Considering My Reserve Tours, Could You Please Tell Me When My GI Bill Benefits Expire?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I served on active duty from 1998-2002 in the U.S. Air Force. I am currently active Reserve, and I have served three 6-month active duty tours since 2002 (In addition, I was on a 79-day active duty tour in 2011 along with normal reserve duty). Considering my reserve tours, could you please tell me when my GI Bill benefits expire (also – do you have to utilize all your benefits by that expiration date, or do you simply have to begin utilizing your GI Bill benefits by that date?) Lastly, under current regulations, can I transfer my benefits to my dependents? One part of this website says I cannot, and another section says new rules in 2009 allow this. If so, by when do the dependents need to utilize them? Thank you.

A: O.K., lets walk through all of your questions. With your three 6-month and one 79-day active tours, you have about 20.5 months of active duty. If by “active Reserve”, you mean you are in the Army Guard and Reserve (AGR) program, then your AGR time also counts. However, if you are a drilling reservist, that time normally does not count.

As far as your Post 9/11 GI Bill expiration date, your education benefits will expire 15 years from your last date of discharge. To answer one of your questions, yes you have to exhaust your education benefits by your expiration date or you lose whatever unused benefits you have left, but 15 years is a long time.

I can’t tell by your question how many total years you have in, however, the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer rules say you have to serve for at least 6 cumulative years in the United States Armed Forces (active, Guard or Reserve) and agree to serve an additional four years before you can get a transfer request approved, but if you meet those two service obligations, yes you can transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to dependents. The rule actually changed on October 1st that now allow AGR personnel to use their time for Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility and transfer benefits.

Once you do transfer benefits to dependents, a spouse has up 15 years to use his/hers transferred entitlements; a child has until age 26. Any unused benefits from either a spouse or child are lost at that time, unless the sponsor revokes the benefits back before they expire.

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