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How Much Additional Time Must I Serve If I Want to Transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m eligible to retire from the Marine Corps in October of 2013. I’m interested in transferring my G.I. Bill benefits to my children via the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Plan. The regulations, as written in 2009, say I owe four more years of service if I transfer it. The language about eligibility to retire is somewhat confusing. Because the post-9/11 G.I. Bill plan was written in 2009, is being eligible to retire within two years fit the criteria? In other words, if I sign up for it in 2011, do I have to now retire 2015, vice 2013? Or, since I’ve been serving on active duty since 2009 and eligible to retire in 2013 I have simply met the criteria and just must only sign up to receive benefit when I retire in 2013? Thank you very much for your time.

A: According to the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer of benefits criteria, you have to have 1) served on active duty Title 10 orders for at least six years of which at least three years must have been after September 10, 2001. 2) must agree to serve and additional four years, unless you are within four years of being retirement eligible (20 years or more).

Since you are within four years of retiring, the the additional time you have to serve, if any, will be proportionally reduced. Most likely, if you are retiring within two years, you will have to extend your enlistment by two years  unless your current enlistment takes you out to 2013 already. My justification is based on the original transfer of benefits verbaige on the VA’s website:

If a member becomes retirement eligible during the period from August 1, 2009, through August 1, 2013. A service member is considered to be retirement eligible if he or she has completed 20 years of active duty or 20 qualifying years of reserve service.

  • For those individuals eligible for retirement on August 1, 2009, no additional service is required.
  • For those individuals who have an approved retirement date after August 1, 2009, and before July 1, 2010, no additional service is required.
  • For those individuals eligible for retirement after August 1, 2009, and before August 1, 2010, 1 year of additional service after approval of transfer is required.
  • For those individuals eligible for retirement on or after August 1, 2010, and before August 1, 2011, 2 years of additional service after approval of transfer are required.
  • For those individuals eligible for retirement on or after August 1, 2011, and before August 1, 2012, 3 years of additional service after approval of transfer required.

It says if you were going to retire between August 1, 2009 and August 1, 2011, then you would owe two more years. Because you are retirement eligible in 2011, I would say you owe two more years unless your enlistment already takes you out to your retirement date in 2013. If it does, then you should be OK with what you have.

The sure way to tell is to make a transfer request and see if it is approved or not. If not, then you know you have to extend and apply again. If can take 8 to 10 weeks for the status to change from “Pending Review” to “Approved”, so keep checking back at the website occasionally.

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