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How Long Would My Wife and Children Have Access to Use Post 9/11 GI Bill Transferred Benefits?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I transferred my GI Bill benefits to my wife and children (10 and 7 years old) in October 2009 and then retired December 2009. How long will my wife and children have access to use this benefit?

A: There are different rules for spouses than there are for dependent children as far as the amount of time they have to use Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits. For spouses, they generally have 15 years from your date of discharge to use or lose transferred benefits. This falls in line with the same amount of time you would have had to use your Post 9/11 GI Bill if you would have kept any education benefits for yourself.

For dependent children though, it goes by age. They can start using their benefits at age 18, or upon graduation from high school, and they have finish using their benefits by age 26 or they lose them. So they each have an 8-year window to use up their transferred benefits.

If you have a child that would not be able to use up his/her benefit before hitting the maximum age, or if that child decides s/he does not want to pursue post-secondary education, you can revoke benefits from that child and either reallocate them to another child or to your wife. As a third option, you could keep the benefits for yourself and use them.

What you can’t do is give benefits to a child that never had received transferred benefits to begin with, such as a child you may have had after retiring in 2009.

Even as a sponsor in retirement, you have full control over your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits as far as moving them around among those that already had received benefits before you retired.

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