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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband has been enrolled in 3/4 time for the fall 2011 semester. His online class ended in the end of November, and his math class at the college ended on Dec 8. I’m trying to figure out how much Basic Allowance for Housing we will receive. We would normally get $800. Would the amount we receive be based on the 8 days he was still attending his math class? And then would that only be considered part time since his online class ended in November?

A: It really depends on how many credits his math class was in relation to how many credits his school considers to be full-time, along with how many days the class ran in December (which you indicated was 8 days).

Assuming his math class was enough credits to put him over the 51% of the number of credits considered full-time, he would get 8 days worth of housing allowance. If the credits from his math class resulted in him being at less than 51%, then he would not get any housing allowance for the month of December.

And of course, this will be the first semester that Post 9/11 GI Bill interval or break pay will not be paid for the semester break, so hopefully you were aware of that and have prepared financially for it. He should get around $126.50 which is the $673.50 housing allowance from his online class subtracted from the $800 you normally receive, if he had enough credits to qualify for the housing allowance in the month of December. If not, he won’t get anything.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: President Obama and Congress passed the Veterans Job Bill on 21 Nov. This bill included an additional 12 months of the GI Bill for vets over the age of 35. Does this apply to both the Post 9/11 and the MGIB? If so, when does this go into effect? How do I apply?

A: What the Bill states is you have to be between the ages of 35 and 60 to use the additional training benefits and any GI Bill benefits (including both Montgomery GI Bills (MGIB-AD and MGIB-SR), Post 9/11, VEAP, REAP, VocRehab or Chapter 35), must have either been exhausted or expired.

If that is the case in your situation, then you may be eligible for 12 months or retraining, however, there are also other requirements you must meet to participate in the retraining program, including:
- Having an honorable discharge from your last tour of duty in the Armed Forces.
- Having been unemployed for a specified period of time yet to be determined by the Secretary of Labor, but first consideration will go to veterans who have been unemployed for at least 26 weeks or more.
- Certifying your enrollment in the program monthly.
- Applying prior to October 1, 2013. The application procedures are still being worked out at the time of this writing. Once known, we will post them on this blog.

According to the Act, those using the benefit will be paid at the Montgomery GI Bill rate which as of this writing is $1,473 per month.

The Bill does limit the number of veterans that can participate in the retraining program to 55,000 between the period of October 1, 2012 and March 31, 2014, so it will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The retraining must be offered at a community college or vocational-technical school and must lead to an associate’s degree, certificate, license or other type of program completion documentation and be in an occupation designated as in high demand by the Secretary of Labor.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: How much Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit can I earn/transfer if I previously had and used MGIB? I used 14 months of MGIB benefits because my employer paid the majority of the costs of obtaining my degree. The remainder of my benefits have expired due to hitting the delimitation date.
I served in the US Army Reserves, Mobilized: Feb 2004 – May 2005 (15 months active duty) in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. National Guard, Mobilized: May 2011 – present (6 months and counting; will be 11 or 12 months by the end of our tour) in Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Total anticipated active duty time for Post-9/11 GI Bill by May 2012 is approx. 27 months, earning an estimated 28 months of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits (at the 80% eligible rate).

If I wish to transfer my Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to my spouse or children, how many months will I be able to transfer? I understand that I am capped by the rule of 48, but am I further limited to the unused amount remaining from my MGIB benefits (36-14=22 months) or can I earn up to and transfer 32 months (48-14=32 months) if I deploy again? I have been eligible for retirement since Jun 2009 so will not incur an additional duty obligation by transferring benefits but I also have no plans to retire in the near term.

A: Under the Rule of 48 you are capped at a maximum of 48 months if you are eligible for two or more GI Bills, however, there is a process to get those 48 months. As you probably know, you can’t transfer Montgomery GI Bill benefits to a spouse or dependent, so the only option you have is to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

When you switch, the number of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits you get is the number of unused months of MGIB benefits you had left, which in your case was 22 months. So 22 months will be the number you can divide and give to your spouse and/or children.

The only thing deploying would do is increase your percentage tier from 80% to 100% – it will not add any more months of benefits to what you have left. That would help out your transfer recipients as they inherit the same percentage of support as the sponsor making the transfer. If you do plan on deploying again, and your recipients don’t need their benefits right away, then wait until your are back to make your transfer. That way their percentage will post at 100% right away.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My Dad transferred a portion of his GI bill to me before he retired last May 2011. My Claim for benefits came back denied the reason on the letter said “Unfortunately, we must deny your claim because the Navy isn’t currently participating in the transfer program. We will review your claim for possible eligibility under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.” What exactly does this mean and where do I go from here?

A: That is an interesting response from the VA. It almost sounds like your dad tried to transfer his Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) instead of his Post 9/11 GI Bill. If that is what he did, then I understand their response since the Montgomery GI Bill does not have a transfer-of-benefits option.

How exactly did your dad make a transfer request? What he should have done is gone to the TEB website and filled in the number of Post 9/11 GI Bill months in your record that he wanted to transfer to you. Then he should have kept coming back to the website and looked for the status to change from ”Pending Review” to “Approved”.

Once approved, then you should have submitted VA Form 22-1990e from the eBenefits website to get your Certificate of Eligibility, which you would need when registering for school.

The other possible reason for your declination, could have been he got out of the Navy before the transfer was complete. It can take 8 to 10 weeks for the transfer to get approved. Unfortunately, a transfer cannot be initiated after the sponsor separates from the military, so it may be too late to correct any mistakes that were made.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My sister is in need of 3 semesters of benefits to complete her degree but has no way to afford tuition. How can I transfer her some of my post 9-11 GI Bill? I keep hearing it can’t be done but my years in the army taught me that there is a waiver for anything. Can you help me get on the right path please.

A: Unfortunately, this is one time when a waiver doesn’t exist. According to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the recipient of transferred benefits has to be a dependent of the sponsor earning the benefits. So you can transfer to a spouse or dependent biological, adopted or legally adopted step-children, but you can’t transfer benefits in your case to your sister. Others have asked about transferring benefits to grandchildren and that is not authorized either.

It really is a shame the transfer rules are so restrictive, especially if the sponsor has no intentions of using the remaining benefits since they will expire 15 years from the sponsor’s date of discharge. But those are the rules with no exceptions or waivers.

I’m a firm believer in the saying “Where there is a will, there is a way”. There are many sources of financial support available that could pay or at least help pay for your sister’s remaining three semesters. One of the best places to start is to have her fill out a FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

By filling it out and sending it in, she will know what and how much she would qualify for in scholarships and grants of which neither have to be paid back. It takes some research to find financial aid, but lots of it is out there and much of it is never used.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I used two years of the Montgomery GI bill and I finished my Masters, I just applied for the post 911 GI Bill so how many years am I entitled to?

A: I wish you would have asked your question before you switched. According to the rules of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, now all you will get is the last year you had left under the MGIB and not any additional time under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

However, if you would have exhausted that last Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) year first, and then switched, you could have received an additional 12 months of benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. But since you have already switched, all you will get is the 12 months you had left from your MGIB. The bad part about switching to the New GI Bill is once you switch, you can’t go back.

Under the Rule of 48, if you qualify for two or more GI Bills, the maximum combined number of months of benefits you can get is 48, but to get them, you have to use your benefits as I described above.

One thing to note though, once you use up your last year of MGIB benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you will get about 1/3 of your $1,200 MGIB contribution back or about $400. It will come as part of your last housing allowance payment.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I got out in 03. How do I know what chapter of GI Bill to apply for and is it true that I only choose one or the other?

A: If you did not sign up for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) when you enlisted or while at Basic Training, then the MGIB is not an option you have now. So basically you only have one option – the Post 9/11 GI Bill – which will make selecting one a lot easier.

The way the Post 9/11 GI Bill works is you acquire an eligibility percentage based on the number of months you served after September 10, 2001. Depending on when you got out in 2003 will put you either at the 70% or 80% tier. If your discharge date was after September 10, 2003, then you have the higher amount as that gives you 24 months of service.

What that percentage does for you is it determines how much tuition and fees the VA will pay and also how much you get in housing and book stipends.

It is true that you can only choose one at a time. For example, let’s say you had both the MGIB and Post 9/11 GI Bills. If you chose to use the MGIB, you could use all of it up and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get an additional 12 months of benefits, or you could choose to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill right away and relinquish your rights to the MGIB, but not get the additional 12 months. You would however, get your MGIB contribution back once you used up your benefits.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I was active duty from 1998 to 2003. I began coursework prior to being discharged, using tuition assistance. After being honorably discharged I continued to attend school full time using the original GI BILL and had exhausted the benefits attaining a B.S. degree. I commissioned in 2008 and have about 18 months left of service. What are my options for education benefits in regards to tuition assistance and/or the old and Post 911 GI BILL?My goals are to attain a masters degree and possibly civilian flight training. What are my options for either?

A: First, if you exhausted your Montgomery GI BILL (MGIB), then it’s dead. Second, you should be able to use Tuition Assistance (TA) while you are still serving. It will pay up to $250 per credit with a annual $4,500 cap. If your tuition costs exceed what TA will pay, you can use the Tuition Top-Up programs.

How it works is your service branch pays all your tuition and then bills the VA for what exceeds what TA pays. The VA in turn, converts that dollar amount into months and days of entitlement and deducts that from your GI Bill.

Even though you exhausted your MGIB, you will have 12 months of benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Top-Up is a good way to use the GI Bill in that it slowly uses your benefits.

Under the Rule of 48, if you qualify for two or more GI Bills, you can only get a combined total of 48 months hence the 36 you already used under the MGIB and 12 more you can get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

As far as flight training, the VA generally will only start paying after you have attained your private pilot’s license. I said generally, because some flight training programs include the private pilot license. Under the recent change, the VA will only pay $10,000 per year for flight training. Personally, I think a better use of your remaining GI Bill benefits would be to get your master’s degree.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am prior service and my GI Bill Post 9/11 is almost used up. My spouse who is active duty wants to give me his GI Bill, also Post 9/11, however we will be divorcing soon (he wants to still pass me the bill). How do we go about doing this? Also I saw on one post because it is transferred GI Bill I won’t receive housing or a book payments unless he was no longer active duty. Will that change seeing that we will be divorced?

A: He can still pass you his Post 9/11 GI Bill, but the transfer process must be complete before the divorce proceedings begin just to keep everything straight. It can take 8 to 10 weeks to get a transfer request approved, so he should start the process now.

He needs to go to the TEB website and enter into your record the number of months he wishes to give transfer to you. He can transfer any unused amount. If he has never used any of his Post 9/11 GI Bill, then he should have 36 months he could give you. Periodically, he will have to go back to the TEB website to see when the request status changes from “Pending Review” to “Approved”.

Once that happens, you must go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e to get your Certificate of Eligibility which you will need when registering for school.

As far as housing and book stipend, the VA will need a copy of your final divorce decree and that should start your housing allowance. Under a recent change, you would get the book stipend anyway even if you were not divorced and he was still on active duty.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: What to do? I have been out of the services for over the limit of the Montgomery GI Bill. My term of service was 92-96. My GI BILL has been canceled. Is there anything in the works as far as the Armed Forces or the Government is concerned to reinstate Veterans who served and failed in using the Bill? I heard NO! What is asked Sir is possibilities.

A: There are no possibilities to change the delimitation date at the time of this writing. There has been some talk now and then about eliminating delimitation dates, but nobody has introduced such legislation.

On the Montgomery GI Bill, which would be the one you had, there is a 10 year limitation date which starts on the day of your discharge; your GI Bill ran out in 2006.

The only recourse at you that you would have had, would be to request an extension, but the VA only approves those in three situations:
• If you were detained by a foreign power
• If you were recalled back to active duty
• If something prevented you from attending classes, such as a long-term injury or accident, or if you had to care for an ill family member, or you were relocated by your employer.

Just know the last situation requires extensive documentation and very rarely are requests supported well enough to get the extension. The other two situations are fairly easy to document.

This situation and the one where veterans who retired prior to the Post 9/11 GI Bill starting in August 2009 and they can’t make a transfer request (although they are 100% eligible to make a transfer request) never seem to get enough momentum to the point of them changing.