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Exactly When Does the GI Bill Delimitation Clock Start?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: “If you do not begin using the GI Bill benefits within 10 years of discharge from the service, under the old Montgomery GI Bill, they are lost.” Does this strictly reference discharge from active duty, regardless of reserve time, or does active duty time as a reservist add time to the 10-year clock? Example: Discharged from AD in 1998. Joined a reserve unit in 2001; served on active duty orders for eight months in 2003 and 16 months in 2006-07 and an additional few months, off and on, since then. The “rumor” is, any active duty time extends the 10-year limit. Please clarify. Thank you.

A: That is a true statement if you are referencing to the Montgomery GI Bill, however, what it does not say is the 10-year clock starts at your last date of discharge from the Armed Services of America which includes the Reserves of the different military branches and the National Guard. So as you can see, it does not only pertain to “active” duty, but duty in the Selected Reserves also. So, if you are in a drilling unit, it counts and your 10-year clock has not started yet.

But in case you don’t know it, you also qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. With at least 24 months of active duty as a reservist, you already qualify at the 80% tier. With one more year of qualifying time, you would be at the top. And this GI Bill has a 15-year delimitation date.

One of the big advantages of the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the transfer-to-dependents option. You already have the six years of service and if you agree to serve an additional four years, you could transfer benefits to your spouse and/or children if you are not going to use them yourself.

You have 36 months you can transfer and while they will inherit the same percentage as what you have, at least 80% of their college education would be paid for. That is huge, if you have priced colleges lately. So that is definitely worth looking into.

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