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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is active-duty (0-5) and eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  He successfully transferred 36 months of those Chap 33 benefits to me.  I happen to be a veteran from 1976-80 and used 45 of my 48 months under the Old GI Bill.  I was accepted to an on-line master’s program offered by Loyola University.  Much to our dismay, my VA certificate of eligibility claims that I am only entitled to 3 months of my husband’s transferred benefit because of my status as a pre-9/11 vet who already used her own assigned benefit.  Does this sound like a correct application of eligibility rules?

VA education counselors admitted that my situation was the first they had heard in which full benefits were denied because of this interpretation.  I’m trying to keep my cool, infuriated with this thoughtless restriction, having suffered through my husband’s six GWOT deployments while raising our two toddlers.  I was precisely the spouse they were thinking of when the transferability issue was debated… a reward of sorts for supporting my husband.  What are your thoughts, and what would you do next in my situation?  If this restriction affects so few spouses, is it possible to apply for a waiver?  Thank you for your attention.

A: Unfortunately, it does sound correct. Under the VA’s Rule of 48, if a person qualifies for two or more GI Bills, the maximum combined entitlement is capped at 48 months. While your situation is somewhat unique (you previously having your own GI Bill and Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits from your husband), I can see how they are applying the Rule to your situation.

A waiver is always possible, but looking at the Rule, I doubt if the VA would change their stance on their interpretation, but it never hurts to try. All you would be out is some time and maybe it would force them to take another look at your situation. Sorry I could not be of more help.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am a prior service member and I am now back in. I used part of my old GI Bill, but not all and it is past the ten-year mark. Can I get the New 9/11 GI Bill now that I’m back in or not? Thank you.

A: Once you have served at least 90 days on active duty, you will qualify for minimum Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits (40%). To get to the 100% level takes at least three years.

My concern is that you had the old Montgomery GI Bill. Under the Rule of 48, if you qualify for more than one GI Bill, you are limited to a combined maximum entitlement of 48 months, so you may only get the same number of months under the Post 9/11 GI Bill as you had left under the Montgomery GI Bill. The only thing that might change that would be if they don’t count the Montgomery because it is past the delimiting date, but I don’t think so. If they don’t count your old GI Bill, then you would get the full 36 months of entitlement.

As you know, under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition and fees, up to the in-state maximum, directly to your school. You get paid a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m interested in attending Dover Business College for their medical assistant program, and I would like to know would the Montgomery GI Bill cover that program? Since I’m not getting a degree, but a certification, I was told the Post 9/11 GI Bill will not cover the tuition.

A: What you were told is correct. According to the VA’s approved schools list, Dover is listed as a non-degree school, so the Post 9/11 GI Bill would not cover your Medical Assistant course. However, the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) would cover your course and re-imburse you up to $2,000, if you have to pay to take your certification test. If your certification test is included as part of your course, then you would not be authorized re-imbursement, because you did not incur any additional charges. The MGIB is a good choice for non-degree courses such as:

  • trade;
  • technical;
  • license;
  • certification.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill is generally geared toward degree-producing courses, however, it may pay for non-degree courses, if they are taught by a school also teaching degree courses. Since Dover is listed as strictly a non-degree school, there isn’t a chance of your course being paid for by the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am seeking clarification on transfer eligibility of my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. I retired from the Army on 1 April 2004. I applied for, and received, my Post 9/11 GI Bill in August 2009. I am interested in transferring my GI Bill benefit to my spouse and went to the TEB web site (Transfer of Education Benefits (TEB) Web application: https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/TEB) to do so. However, my spouse is not listed as an eligible recipient. Is this because I did not receive my eligibility of GI Bill benefits while on active duty? From what I am reading in the update policy letter, in order for my spouse to be eligible for transfer I must have a retirement date of August 2009 or later. As stated earlier, my retirement date is effective 1 April 2004. Thanks for your assistance

A: There are a couple of issues causing you inability to transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your wife. According to the Post 9/11 GI Bill transfer-of-benefits rules, you must:

  • be on active duty on or after August 1, 2009;
  • have at least six years of active duty service;
  • agree to serve an additional four years.

You retiring before August 1, 2009 is one reason, but the other reason is you did not have at least three years on active duty after September 10, 2001. These three years put you at the 100% level which is also what you need to transfer benefits.

Right now there is a bill in congress – S3447- that would allow retirees with retirement date before August 1, 2009, but still meeting all the requirements of the transfer benefits rule, to make a transfer to dependents. While the final language of that bill is not approved yet, I doubt they will open it up to veterans not at the 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill level. Keep watching this blog for updates to this legislation.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have used one year of MGIB to get my master’s degree. I still have two years left and am eligible for the bonus Post 9/11 GI Bill year. When I try to apply my MGIB to my new PHD program, do I have to submit all the paperwork again from scratch, or is there a shorter way since my eligibility was already proven? Also, when I add the Post 9/11 GI Bill year, can I coordinate that ahead of time, or will there be downtime where my MGIB runs out, and I am still waiting for the Post 9/11 to kick in? Thanks.

A: Since your eligibility is already established, you will just have to submit VA Form 22-1990. You can do that either online at the VONAPP Website or download the form and send it in according to the instructions on the form.

The VA can see that you also qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, so there shouldn’t be a lag. The way it usually works is if you run out of Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits mid-term, the VA will “loan” you the months and days you need to get to the end of a term and then take that amount of time out of your 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement. So when you see your Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement, it would be less than the 12 months, because of the paying back the amount loaned to you.

I would be really careful about trying to pre-coordinate the change to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The VA may mis-interpret your request as switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and only give you the same number of months you had left on your MGIB, instead of you requesting your additional months of entitlement. If you use up your MGIB first and then send in your request, it should go smooth and flow from one GI Bill to the other without an interruption of benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m going back to college and was wondering if I will still be able to collect G.I. Bill benefits for the whole duration of my schooling, which is 18 months (2-year associate’s degree). The catch is that 2011 will be the ten-year mark from my honorable discharge from U.S. Marines.

Does that mean that my current college program will get covered only half-way or in other words exactly until the 10-year mark after separation? Or if I’m in college full time, I get some type of an extension until I finish my degree which will be in 2012 or 11 years after my honorable discharge? Would appreciate all the help I could get with this topic. Thank you

A: Unfortunately, it means at the ten-year mark your Montgomery GI Bill benefits will get cut-off. By regulation, the VA can not extend you beyond your delimiting date unless you were:

  • temporarily disabled or had a long-term illness preventing you from attending classes;
  • called back to active duty;
  • detained by a foreign power.

Of course, if you were recalled back to active duty, your delimiting date would automatically start from your latest date of discharge.

Running out of entitlement is treated differently than hitting a delimiting date. If you run out of GI Bill benefits mid-term, the VA will extend your benefits until the end of the term, i.e. quarter, semester, etc.

Because your GI Bill benefits will stop part way to your degree, I would start making financial arrangements now so you are financially prepared to pay your college expenses once your GI Bill benefits stop.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am service academy graduate. I have completed my initial 5-year obligation, but have not reached 8 years of service yet. I know I can not transfer or use my 9/11 GI Bill benefits yet, but can I register with the VA for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits now?

You can register for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits once you meet the minimum  eligibility requirement of 90-days of active duty service, but unless you plan on using Tuition Top-Up along with Tuition Assistance (TA), I would wait. If you register now, it will show your current level of eligibility, which will not be accurate once you get to your 8-year mark. If you do not plan on using your benefits anytime soon, then I would wait and register either around the time you get out or after you are out. There really isn’t any hurry as you have 15 years from your discharge date to use your 36 months of entitlements.

Unless you decide to extend your enlistment for another four years, you won’t have enough time in to qualify for the transfer-to-dependents option. That requirement requires at least six years of active duty service and agree to serve an additional four years. If you decide to stay long enough to get the transfer option, then you would have to make your transfer while you are still on active duty. Once you are out, it is too late.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am a reservist that has served 2 one-year deployments, on top of my initial training. I was told that I now rate full benefits from the GI Bill. Is this true?

A: I don’t think it is true and here is why. To qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you have to serve on active duty for three years after September 10, 2001 and your initial training (Basic and AIT) does not count towards eligibility.  With 24 months of deployment, you should be at the 70% tier, which would still pay far better than the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve, currently at a paltry $333 per month.  One more 1-year deployment should put you at the 100% level.

If you decide to go to school, the VA would pay up to 70% of the in-state maximum for your tuition and fees and you would get 70% of both the housing allowance and book stipend, which ends up being a good deal for you when compared to the MGIB-SR.

Also, you would not qualify for the transfer option where you could transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement  to dependents. That comes after you have at least six years on active duty and agree to sign up for an additional four years.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I served on active duty in the Navy from December 10, 1992 to June 1, 2003. I am a resident of Illinois and have been utilizing my Illinois Veteran’s Scholarship Fund to cover my tuition while attending school part time over the past few years. I haven’t used any of my MGIB benefit and am curious if I am eligible to switch it to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and transfer it to my 2 year old daughter for when she attends school down the road. Is this something that I am eligible for and does this seem like the best course to take?

Unfortunately, you don’t qualify for the 100% tier of  the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which is one of the requirements to be able to transfer benefits. With 20 months of qualifying service after September 10, 2001, you could switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and use your benefits at the 70% level.

But it really doesn’t matter, because even if you:

  • were at the 100% level;
  • had the six years of active duty service, with at least three years after September 10, 2001;
  • and had agreed to serve an additional four years, you would not have been on active duty on or after August 1, 2009, which is what the rules state to transfer benefits.

I do have one concern though as to how you are using your education benefits. Your Montgomery GI Bill has a 10-year delimiting date and the clock started on your discharge date in 2003, so your MGIB education benefits will expire in 2013.

From what I can tell, your State benefits don’t have an expiration date, so I think a better course of action may be to use your MGIB first and then your State benefits. That way you would get almost three years of use out of your MGIB before it expires and you could finish off your education with your State Veterans Benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was active duty Army prior to 9/11, I got out and went AGR. I am Title 38 and I have asked, but I can’t get a correct answer, on whether I qualify for the GI Bill or not. I would like to transfer it to my children. Can you please let me know if I qualify for anything? Thanks!

A: Just to clarify something for the readers, AGR personnel are Tile 32 of U.S. Code 38 and not Title 38. As a Title 32 employee, you do not qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, but you do for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), which is the same GI Bill you had while you were on active duty in the Army.

The basic difference is Title 32 employees work for a state governor where Title 10 personnel work for the U.S. President. That is why when reserve personnel are federally mobilized, they go on Title 10 orders because their responsible entity switches from state to the federal.

Unfortunately, the MGIB doesn’t have a dependent transfer benefit feature in it. You still have, and will retain, MGIB benefits for up to 10-years after your discharge date, so you have benefits you can use, however, none are transferable to your children.

To get the dependent transfer option, you would need to have the Post 9/11 GI Bill at the 100% tier level, have at least six years on active duty with at least three years after September 10, 2001, and agree to sign up for an additional four years. If you would be within four years of retiring, the amount of additional time required would be less than four years.