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As an IRR Member, Why Can’t I Transfer Benefits to My Wife?

Q: I am currently in a non-pay status in a Navy VTU, IRR, drilling for retirement points only. I re-affiliated with the SELRES in December 2008 (after a year+ break in service and 7.5 yrs of active duty). In September, 2010, I moved into a non-pay VTU status based on my classification as a key federal employee; I am a federal law enforcement officer. I have 10 qualifying years, 11 total years of service. I am continuing to drill in the hope that my employer’s policy changes and to continue to accrue good years. I recently tried to transfer my Post 9/11 benefits to my wife and was rejected since I am not SELRES at the present. Do I have any recourse? Can I appeal the decision considering I am still in the Navy, actively contributing to my unit by continuing to drill and otherwise meet all the eligibility requirements? Thank you for the assistance.

A: While you qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill yourself, you do not qualify for the transfer-to-dependents option. The way Congress wrote the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you have to be “on active duty on or after August 1, 2009″ to qualify to make a transfer request and they specifically excluded members of the IRR and Fleet Reserve.

Based on their definition, you would not be eligible in your current IRR status. However, Post 9/11 GI Bill SELRES members are eligible to make a transfer request as long as they stay in the Guard or Reserve, but IRR and Fleet Reserve memberships were excluded from that provision for some reason. Because of the wording, I don’t think you have any recourse, but to get either get into the Navy Reserve (as that would make you eligible again) or to go on a deployment and make a transfer request while you are on a Title 10 order for a contingency operation. Sometimes Congress works in mysterious ways.

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