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Why Does My Husband Have to Reapply?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is active duty Air Force. Last fall, he completed the paperwork (we thought) to apply for the Post-9/11 GI Bill and he transferred a portion of his remaining benefits to me. I was able to complete my degree and all of my courses have been paid for. However, none of his requests for Top-Up this year have been paid. He attends classes online and the cost is greater than his TA Benefits, so he uses Top-Up for the difference. Now he is being told that he has to reapply for himself for benefits under the new program. (supposedly he never filled out an application for himself, form 22-1990) First, how can he have transferred benefits to me, under the Post 9/11 program, if he never completed an application for those benefits to begin with? Second, how will his top-up benefits affect his remaining months of eligibility? His education office told him that every Top Up form he submits, takes a full month of eligibility from him, no matter what the actual payment (typically just under $700).

A: I can see how he would have to apply for the Post 9/11 GI Bill even though he transferred benefits to you. When he made his transfer request to you, he did it through the Transfer of Entitlement Benefits (TEB) website.  To switch and use his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits for himself, he has to go to the VONAPP website and submit VA Form 22-1990 as you suggested in your question. I’m not with the VA, but based on my previous government career, I doubt if the two websites (and databases) are connected or inter-relational.

As far as the Top-Up program, it is my understanding that his service branch pays for his tuition costs and what TA does not cover, they bill the VA. The VA pays his service branch the difference and then converts the amount they paid into months of entitlement and deducts that number of months from his unused months of benefits. Using a combination of TA and Top-Up is a good way to maximize his GI Bill entitlement as they end up getting used at a slower rate and TA is free money as a benefit of his service, so why not use it.

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