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If I Have Half of My Benefits Left, Can They Be Extended?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) through my spouse, who is rated 100% disabled. I have used about half of my benefits and I want to continue my education because I have been unable to secure a permanent position as a teacher due to hiring freezes in So. California. If I start full time on August 31, 2010, can my benefits be extended? Please let me know.

A: I just need to first clarify something. I don’t think you are using your husband’s Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) – I think you are using the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program (DEA). There are some subtle differences between the two.

The MGIB has 36 months of education benefits where the DEA has 45 months. The MGIB pays $1,368 per month and the DEA pays $1,094.40 per month, however over the course of both programs, they end up paying the same amount – $49,248. The advantage of the DEA is you get 9 more months of benefit and your delimiting time clock usually starts later. The MGIB time clock starts on the date of discharge. The DEA time clock starts when the VA informs your husband he is 100% disabled. However, once notified and your clock starts, you still have 10 years to use up your benefit.

To answer the second part of your question, generally speaking, no your benefits can’t be extended. Two situations where the VA will extend your benefits are:

  • if you were disabled during a period of time that prevented you from training;
  • or if your benefits end mid-term, the VA can extend you to the end of the term.

It doesn’t sound as if either would apply in your case.

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