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How Do I Get My Additional 12 Months of Benefits?

Q: I served 4.5 years of active duty after September 11. I separated with an honorable discharge and was awarded 36 months of Chapter 30. I used 29 months of Chapter 30 and I converted the remaining 7 months to Chapter 33.

Of the 7 months of Chapter 33 I had, I used up 3 months of Chapter 33, which leaves me with 4 months left from the initial 36 months of Chapter 30 that I had from my active duty service.

I now joined the reserves and learned that my time served, while on active duty, also counts for the Post 9/11 GI Bill as a reservist. I also learned that I can have up to 48 months of VA Educational Benefits. So far, I have used 32 months of VA Educational benefits. 29 months with Chapter 30 and 3 with Chapter 33. Do I have 16 months of Post 9/11 benefits left? (4 months from the converted Chapter 30 and another 12 from joining the reserves and having 36 months of active duty time served)

A: O.K., first, the fact that you joined the reserves has nothing to do with any of this. Under the Rule of 48, if you qualify for two or more GI Bills, the most you can get are 48 months of combined education benefits. You had Chapter 30 – the Montgomery GI Bill – and you qualify for the Chapter 33 – the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

But to get the additional 12 months of benefits, you would have had to first exhaust your Chapter 30 benefits and then switch to Chapter 33. Because you switched with 7 months of remaining Chapter 30 benefits, you screwed yourself out of the additional 12 months.

So, the short answer is you only have 4 months of Chapter 33 benefits left. Is it fair? I don’t think so, but then I don’t make up the rules either.

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