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Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I served for four years (2000-2004). Am I eligible for the Post 9/11 Bill benefit? If I am can I transfer them to my wife?

A: I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is you are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill (provided you have an honorable discharge). Whether you have full Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlements or not depends on when you got out in 2004.

If it was after September 10th, then you are at the 100% tier. If it was before September 10th, then you are at the 90% level. Regardless of your tier level, you have 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits you can use.

While the difference between the two levels is only 10%, the differences go deeper. If you served on active duty, then you have to be at 100% to use the Yellow Ribbon Program. What the Yellow Ribbon Program does for you is if you pay out-state tuition or attend a private school, it helps pay the difference between what the school charges and what the Post 9/11 GI Bill pays. If you are at 90%, then you would have to pay the difference out-of-pocket.

If you attend a public school in your state of residency, then your GI Bill would pay your tuition and eligible fees in full and you would not need the Yellow Ribbon Program.

The bad news is you will not be able to transfer Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to your wife. According to Post 9/11 GI Bill rules, you have to have served for at least six years, be serving “on or after August 1, 2009” and agree to serve an additional four years, before a transfer request would be approved.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have just read the answer for the Post 9/11 GI Bill here. I served in the service from Mar 1999 to Feb 2007 but went immediately overseas to work. I have been married now since 2009 and my wife and I have 2 children. My spouse and 1 child biologically mine are both from Sweden. The other child was born in the states recently. I was wondering how do I know, if I can’t remember, if I have the Post 9/11 GI Bill or not and if my spouse can use the GI Bill to further her education if we choose to do so? Thank you.

A: You have served more than enough time to qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. To get to the 100% tier, all you needed was 36 months of Title 10 service since September 10, 2001. So you have 36 months of entitlement that you can use to further your education.

However, the bad news is you will not have an opportunity to pass any of your GI Bill to your spouse or children. The way Congress wrote the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you had to be serving “on or after August 1, 2009 before you could make (and get approved) a transfer request. Plus the other part was you had to agree to serve for an additional four years, so they used the transfer benefit part of the Post 9/11 GI Bill as a reenlistment incentive. Being you got out prior to August 1, 2009, you did not have an opportunity to exercise the transfer option.

But, if Congress does change the rules at some point in the future, you may qualify for a one-time transfer in which your spouse and biological child you qualify. You referenced a second child, but did not say if s/he was biologically yours or not. If not, but you have went though the legal system to formally adopt the second child, then s/he would also qualify as your legal dependent and would be eligible to receive Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlements also.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: If I still have my GI Bill Benefits even though I am retired, why can’t I transfer what is mine to my sons who need it for college.

A: Hey, I’m with you! However, our Congress personnel are not. The way they wrote the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you had to be serving “on or after August 1, 2009” to make a transfer request, so all of you who retired prior to the August 1st date were just plain screwed.

I will never understand why Congress did that to our veterans as thousands of you are fully eligible for the transfer option because you have the requisite six years of Title 10 service after September 10, 2001, but because you retired before the “magic” date of August 1, 2009, you were excluded from the transfer option.

And the worse part is Congress has not seen fit to fix it yet to this day. There have been a couple of pieces of legislation that would have provided for a one-time transfer, but not only did they not pass, they never even made it to a vote, so what does that tell you about how Congress feels about the veterans that helped secure the freedom they so enjoy!

This is one wrong that needs to be fixed. I encourage all of you to contact your Legislators and ask them to either create legislation or support legislation that would right this wrong. The focus is on those serving today and those that served yesterday seemed to have been forgotten.

So the reason you can’t transfer benefits to your sons is Congress doesn’t seem to think it is important enough to do anything about changing it.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Is it possible to give my wife my Post 9/11 GI Bill and use my MGIB for my own education? If so how do I transfer my Post 9/11 GI Bill to my wife?

A: No it is not possible to do that as when you switch from the Montgomery GI Bill to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you relinquish your rights to the previous GI Bill. So, once you make the switch, not only is it irreversible, but your eligibility to the former GI Bill is gone. And that is not necessarily a bad thing now that the Post 9/11 GI Bill almost mirrors the older Montgomery GI Bill since the implementation of GI Bill 2.0.

The key to giving your Post 9/11 GI Bill to your wife is first you have to be still serving. If you are already retired, it is too late to make a transfer of benefits to her.

If you are still serving, then you must have served for at least six years and agree to serve an additional four years before you can make a transfer request and get it approved.

To make a request, go to the TEB website and enter into your wife’s record how many months you would like to give here. You can enter any amount up to the number of unused benefits you have left.

Once the request is approved, then she can go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e to get her Certificate of Eligibility that she will need when registering for school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: This refers to the “Rule of 48″ VA policy. I entered Active duty OCT 77 departed OCT 85 and I have used 18 months of GI Bill benefits. It was not the Montgomery Bill. I returned to active duty (Title 10 call up) May 2009 and departed July 2011. What benefits do I have remaining? Thank you.

A: Yes, back in that era you most likely had VEAP as the Montgomery GI Bill did not start until 1984. Under the Rule of 48, if you qualify for two or more GI Bills, the maximum combined number of months of GI Bill benefits you can have is 48 months.

With VEAP you would have initially had 36 months of benefits and you have used 18 of those months already. Unfortunately, to get the additional 12 months of benefits, you first have to exhaust all the months of benefits under one GI Bill. So in your case, you would have needed to use up all 36 of your VEAP months to get the additional 12 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill. Because had not, you would be eligible for only 18 months of the Post 9/11 GI Bill or the amount of unused benefits you had left from your VEAP.

Also, because you had 26 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill qualifying service, you would be at the 80% tier, meaning the VA would pay up to 80% of your tuition and eligible fees (at a public school) and you would get up to 80% of the housing allowance and book stipend for the number of months of entitlement you have left.

Even though you were probably hoping for more months of benefits, this is still a good deal for you if you want to go back to school.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I just got back from Iraq, and wanted to use my Post 9/11 GI Bill. The problem is I’m 44 years old and have never enrolled in college, could someone please explain what I need to do to get started?

A: Yes, I can explain the process. First, go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990. In return you will get your Certificate of Eligibility. Take your certificate with you when you register for school. That will identify you as a student using Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

Once you are registered, your school will send in a Certificate of Enrollment which tells the VA you are registered for school. The combination of your certificates of enrollment and eligibility start the payment process.

Toward the beginning of the semester, you will receive your book stipend paid at the rate of $41.67 per credit up to a maximum of $1,000 per year. You do not need to send a receipt for your books to the VA. They give you a fixed amount based on each credit you take and if your books run more, then you pay the difference out of your pocket. If they run less, you keep the extra amount.

Sometime after you receive your book stipend, you will get a housing allowance. It is based on the zip code of your school, paid at the pay grade of an E-5 with dependents and how many credits you are taking.

The VA will pay your school directly your tuition and eligible fees, so your housing allowance is yours to spend as you like, assuming you bought books with your book stipend.

There you have it – the complete process. If you run into a problem, contact your VA Certifying Official at you school. They can help you with any GI Bill problem.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I retired in Aug 2010, (USN) after 30 years of service. Before I retired I allocated my 911 GI bill benefits as follows, 1/3 to myself, 1/3 to my wife and 1/3 to my daughter (17 yrs old). I was told before I retired that I could re-allocate and portion or all to any of the previously named individuals. I have heard rumors that this is not true. What is the correct answer?

A: The correct answer is whether you are serving or already retired; you always maintain the right to revoke and reallocate (or keep the revoked Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits yourself) until there are no unused benefits left to use or revoke.

As the sponsor, they are your benefits and by law you can do anything you want with them. So if your wife or daughter will not use their benefits, revoke and reallocate as appropriate, instead of letting them go to waste.

What you can’t do (and this may be what confused the people spreading the rumors that you can’t revoke and reallocate) is you can’t give Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to a family member that has not already had transferred benefits before you retired.

For example, let’s say you had a son that you did not include in your initial benefits transfer and you retired, or had a son after you retired. Now that you are retired, you could not revoke the benefits from your daughter and give them to your son – he never had benefits to begin with while you were serving.

However, if he did have benefits, prior to you retiring and had since used them all up, you could give him more benefits, because he had received a transfer when you were still serving. Does that clear up the confusion?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Why is it hard for military veteran to find jobs, even when they did the job in the military and now want to do it as a civilian? For example, Human Resources. I have a master’s degree in Human Resources Management and did HR in the military for 20 years.

A: The biggest reason is the current job market, and it isn’t only veterans that have are having a hard time finding a job – it is most people, although the unemployment rate for veterans is 1% higher than for John Q. Public. There can be hundreds of people applying for a single job nowadays, so you have to make yourself stand out in the crowd. You do that with a stellar resume.

Many people think a resume’s purpose is to find a job, however, the real purpose of a resume is to get the applicant an interview. Once at the interview, you are in control as to whether you get a job offer or not.

As a veteran of military service, you already have marketable skills, called soft skills, such as organization, management, communication and team building/leading. How you present these skills on your resume can make the difference of an interview offer or not.

If you don’t have the education or training required for the position you are interested in, use your GI Bill and go to school. It is a proven fact that college graduates earn twice the amount of a high school graduate over the course of a career.

Of course you should have been preparing for your transition to the civilian world well before the end of your military service, but if you didn’t, it is never too late to start. If you are still serving and need training, use your service branch’s Tuition Assistance program.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have SLP in my contract but can’t find anyone to give me a loan. Can I get a loan from the bank and the Army will still pay it back?

A: Somehow you got some bad information. You only have the Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) if you have existing and qualifying student loans at the time you enlisted. The way you worded your question, it sounds as if you currently don’t have any student loans, so you don’t have SLRP.

And what do you want a loan for? If it is for education, why not use the Army’s Tuition Assistance program instead. They will pay up to $250 per credit with a $4,500 annual cap that would allow you to take 18 credits a year. That way you don’t have a loan to worry about repaying back.

Somehow, I get the feeling you don’t want a loan to go to school. In that case, you are on your own, because even if you do have SLRP, it doesn’t pay off any non-education loans and certainly not any loan you have taken out after you enlisted.

Nor does it pay off all loans you had when you enlisted. Only certain types of loans qualify for SLRP, such as a loan made, insured, or guaranteed under the Higher Education Act of 1965, Title IV, Part B, D, or E prior to entering active duty.

If you actually do have the SLRP in your contract but did not have any education loans when you enlisted, then someone made a mistake.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’ve been out of the regular Army since 06. I need to know how and if i can use my GI Bill and if I have any kind of 401k or the like that I can pull out. How and where do I find the info I need?

A: You can find the info right here. I’ll explain it to you. If you paid into the Montgomery GI Bill, and you qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill (more on that in a minute), then you can get your $1,200 MGIB contribution back, once you have used up all 36 months of your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. If you switched to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with less than 36 months of benefits left, then you would get a lesser amount of your contribution back; it would be prorated based on the number of MGIB months you have left at the time you switched.

Because the Post 9/11 GI Bill does not require any monetary contribution (as does the MGIB), they felt it was only far that if you did not use any MGIB benefits, or had some left and used them under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, that you could get some of your contribution back.

If you participated in the Thrift Saving Plan (TSP) for the uniformed services, you also have money there you could pull out. You can pull out your contributions and any earnings you may have accumulated, but if you are less than 59 ½ year old, you will pay a penalty for the withdrawal. If you are 59 ½ or older the penalty is waived. Unless you really need the money bad or meet the age requirement already, I would leave it in and let it make money for you.

If you have less than $200 in it, then you got the money when you separated. If you have more than $200 invested, then you have other options, such as a single payment or monthly payments to name two.