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Am I Better Off Using the Chapter 33 GI Bill or Voc Rehab If I Have a Medical Discharge?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Am I better off using the GI Bill (33) if I am medically discharged from the Army with less than 2 years on Active Duty, or should I use the Vocational Rehabilitation through the VA? My understanding is if I am medically discharged I qualify 100% for the GI Bill. Is this true?

A: It is not necessarily true that you qualify for 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits just because you were medically discharged. The discharge has to be service-connected and you had to have served for at least 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001. You meet the 30-day requirement, but I don’t know the dates you served or if your discharge was service-connected or not.

If your discharge is not service-connected, then the best you could hope for through the Chapter 33 is 24 months of benefits – one month of benefits for each month served. For an Honorable medical discharge, that includes:
• A medical condition that you had before enlisting that was not caught at MEPS.
• A physical or mental condition that would not allow you to perform your duties, but that did not result in misconduct on your part.

If neither of the above is applicable to your situation, then you might not get any Chapter 33 benefits at all. Of course, if it is service-connected then you would most likely get the full 36 months of benefits at the 100% tier.

To qualify for Voc Rehab, your disability must be rated at least at 10% and be service-connected. If you meet both requirements, then you could get up to 48 months of entitlement that must be used up within 12 years of your disability rating notice. Under Chapter 31Voc Rehab, they would pay your tuition and you could get the same living expense that Post 9/11 GI Bill users get – based on the rate of pursuit and zip code of your school. Or you could use your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits without using Voc Rehab. You best bet is to talk to a VA Counselor and sort out the best plan of action for you to pursue.

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