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Should I Transfer My Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits Now or Wait Until I Get Into the Reserves?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Dear GI Bill Expert, I will separate this summer after 11 years Active Duty, but plan on transferring into the Reserves without a break in service. I have already elected to take the Post 9/11 GI Bill and would like to transfer the benefit to my dependents. I understand the transfer would obligate me for an additional 4 years of military service. I am confused as to whether transferring the benefit now would commit me to another 4 years and not allow me to separate this summer? Or can I wait until I separate and join the Reserves then elect to transfer the benefit to my dependents? I’ve heard that I must make my decision to give my dependents the benefit while on Active Duty and that the window will to transfer will close once I’m no longer AD. Ideally, I would like to transfer the benefit now and finish my obligation in the reserves. Any guidance would be much appreciated. Thank you.

A: Yes you should wait to transfer benefits your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits until you get into the Reserves because if you sent in a request now, it would not be approved; you don’t have the additional four years of enlistment in place when you make the transfer request. So wait until you enlist in the Reserves.

When you do enlist in the Reserves, make sure it is for more than four years, otherwise you won’t have a full four years left on your enlistment contract at the time you make you transfer request and your request would be disapproved.

What you heard about the transfer window closing once you leave active duty is true if you are not going into another branch of the Armed Forces, which you are. The way Congress wrote the rules you had to be a member of the Armed Forces of the United States (which includes the Reserves and National Guard) on or after August 1, 2009 (and meet the other eligibility requirements) to make a transfer request.

If you were not going into the Reserves you would not be eligible to make a transfer request, but because you are, you maintain your transfer ability as long as your four-year enlistment time or more is in place.

You won’t be able to do it the way you want though – use a combined active and Reserve time. Enlist in the Reserve first and then make your transfer request.

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