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Can I Combine Montgomery GI Bill and Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: CSM, I was on active duty for 10+ years and paid for the GI Bill and the $600 Buy-Up Program. Immediately after separating, I joined the Navy Reserve Component and went to school. I used the MGIB and have about 15 months left when I was called back to serve in Kuwait for nearly 14 months. During demobilization we were told that since we were reactivated we would be able to go ahead and start using the Post 9/11 GI Bill and in my case I would be able to combine the 15 leftover months with the additional 12 months for a total of 27 months of the Post 9/11 GI bill. My original plan was to use the remainder of the MGIB and then the “extra” 12 months of the Post 9/11 but after hearing this I had to ask. Thank you for what you do.

A: What you were told at your demobilization was wrong. Surprise huh! The way the Post 9/11 GI Bill works, if you qualify for two or more GI Bills, you have to give up one to use the New GI Bill. So if you switch to the New GI Bill with months of benefits left on your old GI Bill, then all you will get under the Post 9/11 GI Bill are those same number of months and not the additional months.

However, if you first expend all your old GI Bill benefits and then switch, you get the additional 12 months of benefits. But if the only active duty time you have after September 10, 2001 is your 14 months of mobilization, then transferring to the Post 9/11 GI Bill right away might not be in your best interest.

If you only have 14 months of Title 10 time after the September date, you would be at the 60% Post 9/11 GI Bill level, which usually means you would earn more money by staying with the old GI Bill, especially since you also have the Buy-Up program. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you would lose your Buy-Up. With the Buy-Up and Montgomery GI Bill, you would get $1,621 per month.

2 responses on “Can I Combine Montgomery GI Bill and Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits?

The $600 Buy-Up program allows servicemembers to purchase increments of extra pay that they can draw on when they start using their GI Bill. For example if a servicemember pays in $600, s/he can get an additional $5,400 spread out over the 36 months of the GI Bill – it figures out to $150 per month. This money is in addition to the $1,473 they would normally get from the Montgomery GI Bill. However, Buy-Up does not work with the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

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