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As a Divorced Spouse, What Benefits Can I Expect from Using the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband transferred all 3 yrs. of his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to me before our divorce. He is currently deployed & will be returning in May, and I will be returning to school this fall. Am I entitled to the BAH I received before he went to Iraq, or is that for dependents only? What benefits other than tuition can I still receive as a divorced spouse?

A: You won’t get the BAH you were receiving before the divorce anymore due to you the fact that you are no longer listed as one of his dependents. However, you would get the Post 9/11 GI Bill monthly housing allowance (which is different from actual BAH, although you see people referring to the Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowance as BAH, which it is not).

The New GI Bill housing allowance is calculated based on the zip code of your school and the number of credits you take. Depending on where your school is located, you could get less than the average of $1,200 per month if you go to school in the Midwest to more than double the average if you go to school on either the East or West Coast.

If you decide to go to a public school, the VA will pay your tuition and fees directly to your school. If you decide to go to a private school, then they would pay up to $17,500 per year in tuition and fees. Regardless of whether you go public or private, you still would also get the book stipend once each semester calculated at $41.67 per credit (up to the $1,000 per year limit).

9 responses on “As a Divorced Spouse, What Benefits Can I Expect from Using the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Isn’t it true that the housing allowance is only paid to spouses (including divorced spouses) when the service member is no longer on active duty? Her ex-husband would need to be discharged or retire in order for her to get the housing allowance. Please clarify as I will be in the same situation. My divorce is almost final and I will receive all 36 months as well. He retires 6 months after the divorce. I believe I must wait until this retirement to be eligible for the housing allowance.

That is not true. Once the divorced spouse is no longer listed in DEERS as a dependent of the servicmember, s/he could be eligible for the housing allowance if s/he is taking enough credits to warrant eligibility – at least 51% of the number the college considers to be full-time.

My friend was just told her housing/stipend allowance will not be paid to her because her ex-husband is active duty. She is taking full credits are her school and considered a full time student. She was registered in DEERS but no longer is. Can you please help or have any advice?

DEERS is checked by the VA when it receives a transfer of benefits request to ensure the recipient is a dependent of the sponsor transferring the benefit. Once the request is approved, it most likely is not checked again.

So unless she or her ex husband sent the VA a copy of their divorce decree, the VA is most likely still assuming they are still married. Have her send in a copy of the decree and see if that fixes the problem.

She just checked again today with the VA. They said it doesn’t matter if they were still married or divorced, the fact her Ex is still active duty nullifies the housing stipend. Apparently they changed this a few years ago as active duty servicemen were double dipping, taking the stipend along with the free tuition while getting full time pay as active duty member.

If you know of any last ditch efforts or resorts to get the housing stipend she would be grateful as she rearranged her job, and took less hours at work due to her planning on the stipend. She does not receive alimony and is no longer a dependent of her Ex. So she is in a bind financially due to this double dipping that had been going on for years from previous people. Thank you for your help!

I would like to know if this was ever resolved. I am currently going through a divorce and he is transferring his post 9/11 GI bill to me. After the divorce, he will not rate BAH for a spouse, but will still rate BAH for the children in my custody due to child support. I would very much like to go to school full time so that I can obtain an education to better support my children, and would like to know if in fact I would rate the housing allowance. I have not seen anything in the regs addressing this issue other than spouses don’t rate the allowance because the active duty soldier receives BAH for them, which would not be the case after divorce. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

You would rate the Post 9/11 GI bill, but only after you come off DEERS as his spouse. Be sure to send in a copy of the divorce decree to the VA as evidence you are no longer married to him. Otherwise the VA will not have knowledge of it.

I am also a former spouse after 25 years of marriage. My active duty ex transferred his Post 911 GI benefit to me and I began my education a couple months ago. I was informed yesterday because my ex is still active duty, I am not eligible to receive the housing stipend, only the book allowance. I called VA personally, twice and received the same answer. I asked if it would make a difference to send in my divorce decree and I was told no. The fact that he is still active duty is the key. He needs to retire before I can receive the housing allowance.

It depends on the terms of your divorce. If you are still receiving BAH and listed in DEERS as his dependent, then yes, you are not entitled to the housing allowance as that would be double-dipping. However, if you are not receiving BAH and are no longer listed in DEERS under him, then you should get the MHA. And either way you would get your tuition paid and get the book stipend.

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