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Once You Switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Can You Go Back If You Mis-Understood the Rules?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have used all but two months of my MGIB education benefits. I thought that I would be eligible for Post 9/11 benefits that would renew my eligibility for an additional 12 months if I applied for Post 9/11 benefits but now I am told that I have to use up the MGIB benefits first. If I applied for Post 9/11 but did not understand about losing the 12 months, can I reverse the application or will I now just have two months of Post 9/11 available to me?

A: Ignorance of the GI Bill rules is not a good defense in the eyes of the VA. What you were told is generally correct. If you transfer to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with MGIB benefits left, all you will get for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits is the same number of months you had left under the MGIB. If you first exhaust your MGIB benefits and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would get the additional 12 months.

The VA is very specific about noting on the VA Form 22-1990 that the decision to transfer is irrevocable. In Item 9f notes they say “An election to give up benefits under an existing program and receive benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill is IRREVOCABLE. You should carefully consider your decision before completing this section. If you need more information to make a choice, you should visit our website at www.gibill.va.gov or call our toll-free customer service number at 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551).” In Item 9f itself, by checking the block you understand “My election is irrevocable and may not be changed.”

So in their eyes, it is a one-way street. However, with that said, I have heard of a couple of instances where the VA did switch back the veteran because s/he had not yet used the New GI Bill benefits. Don’t depend on that happening all the time, but if you want to switch back and have not used your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits yet since switching, it would not hurt to ask.

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