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Is My Husband Entitled to BAH While I’m Using My Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is an active service member in Japan and I am a veteran going to college in New York with full benefits of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, including BAH for living on campus. My husband says he’s entitled to BAH if I am paying for my room out of pocket. The BAH helps but I am still using some of my own money to pay for my dorm. Is he entitled to BAH while I am using mine? Or would he be entitled to BAH after I finish using mine for school? I appreciate anyone that can answer this in fully. Thanks.

A: I can answer your question, but for clarity purposes, let’s first work on the terminology. What you get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill is a Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA), not BAH. While your MHA is calculated off of the BAH tables, it is entirely different in many ways. What your husband gets while serving on active duty oversees is the Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA).

The second part for clarity is the VA could care less where you live while you are going to school. So the MHA money you get is the same whether you are living on campus, off campus, or with your folks at home and not paying rent. It is calculated based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits taken and paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents.

Typically if you were not a veteran, but going to school under Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits, you would not get the MHA, but your husband would collect OHA at the dependent level. You would get your tuition paid up to the resident undergraduate rate and up to $1,000 per academic year in the book stipend money.

But since you are a veteran using your own Post 9/11 GI Bill, you are authorized the MHA. Whether you are paying for some of your room and board out of pocket or not has nothing to do with whether he can collect OHA or not.

If he is living in government furnished quarters while in Japan, then he most likely would not be authorized OHA. However, if he is living off post, then he should at least get the single rate.

The reason he is not collecting OHA at the dependent level is because you are getting the MHA. If he were, that would be double-dipping and not allowed under current law.

Once you are finished using your Post 9/11 GI Bill, then he would be authorized to start receiving OHA at the dependent level again.

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