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If I Was Temporarily Disabled, Can I Get A Delimiting Date Extension?

Q: I was in the military enlisted from 1980 to 1983 and served 6 years IRR. Then I went back as an Army Officer from 1991-1997, got out under the early separation program. I was in the IRR until July 2001 when I terminated my commission. I also was married to a military retired E-8 for 23 years. He died in 2005 from lung cancer. I cared for him, worked during this time, and was unable to go to school. After he died, I also got very sick and was on strong medication, so I was unable to work and subsequently had two major surgeries; again physically unable to use my benefits.

Now I am somewhat better, still not working and considered permanently partially disabled. My final determination has not been made since I am still undergoing therapy. My Montgomery GI Bill benefits expired in 2007. Since I was unable to use my benefits because of these circumstances beyond my control, can I apply for some type of extension? I can get my Doctor to write a letter to verify these statements.

A: I doubt if you can get a Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) n extension for the time you were caring for your husband, but you should qualify for an extension when you were disabled. Here is what the VA says in situation such as yours: “Extensions of the 10-Year Eligibility Period – We can extend your 10-year period by the amount of time you were prevented from training during that period because of a disability or . . ..”

To request an extension, send the VA a letter requesting your extension based on the fact you experienced an illness or disability preventing you from attending school. You will also have to include the following information in your request:

  • type of disability or illness you’re claiming;
  • the exact beginning and ending dates (mm-dd-yyyy) of the period during which you couldn’t go to school or attend training because of your disability;
  • the reason(s) you were unable to begin or continue a training program;
  • the type of each job you held during the period of your disability;
  • the name and address of each employer, and the beginning and ending dates and the weekly hours of each job.

Also, it is very important for the doctor treating you to prepare a statement with the following information:

  • his or her diagnosis and treatment;
  • how long you’ve had the disability or illness;
  • the exact beginning and ending dates (mm-dd-yyyy) of the period during which your disability prevented you from training or going to school.

Also send them any other medical evidence you have, such as hospital reports or laboratory test results relating to your condition. In other words, make it hard for them to not extend your GI Bill benefits.

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