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Why Can’t My Husband Make A Post 9/11 GI Bill Transfer of Benefits?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is an E5 active duty Army. He enrolled himself in college a year ago and he has started using part of his GI Bill. He tried enrolling me into the program as his spouse, but we were told by someone in the Department of Defense office that unless he has 4 years on his contract to serve as an active duty service member they will not give his spouse a portion of the GI Bill for my education.

He has been in the service since June 2002 and he re-enlisted November of 2009 for another 4 years. So his contract will expire in November of 2013. I found out in late May that I was accepted into nursing school, but obviously when my husband re-enlisted in November 2009 we didn’t know I was going back to school.

The Department of Defense personnel told my husband that unless he would sign me up the date he re-enlisted they would not be required to give a portion of his benefits to me since they use the spouse/children referral as a retention factor for enlisted members. But they would give my husband his portion of the GI Bill since he was the individual that initially invested his money into the program. I don’t know what to believe since the GI Bill website doesn’t say anything about a certain number of years being required on the service member’s contract in order to transfer benefits to their spouse or children.

A: Actually it does say that on the VA’s website in their transferability document.

But, one part I don’t understand is where you say “since he was the individual that initially invested his money into the program.” The Post 9/11 GI Bill is free, so this sounds like your husband has the Montgomery GI Bill. Or he may have had the MGIB and has since converted to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. My point is that if he still has the MGIB, he will not be able to transfer any of it to you, as that GI Bill doesn’t have a transfer option.

If he does have the Post 9/11 GI Bill, I would recommend that he go to the TEB website and try to make a transfer to you. If he is eligible, he will be able to enter the number of months in your record he wants to give to you. If your record is “grayed out”, or it won’t let him edit it, then you know he is not eligible to make a transfer. In that case, he would have to wait until his re-enlistment window opens.

The part I’m not believing is that he would have had to make a transfer on the exact day he re-enlisted.  While technically the DOD representative is correct, as that is the only day your husband actually had a full four years on his extension, I still think the system will allow him to make a transfer if he tries it. Oh, one other thing – you have to be current in DEERS as the TEB website uses the DEERS database as part of the transfer process. I imagine you are already anyway.

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