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Is It True I Don’t Get an Additonal 36 Months of Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I had the Montgomery GI Bill when I was on active duty in the 90s, I found out after some deployments with NG that I am eligible for 36 months of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I contacted the VA to get a COE for my school and asked why I only had 13 months and 3 days of Post 9/11 GI Bill? I was told by the guy that I have 48 months total, regardless of how I split it up. Now I am finding out that I had to use the remaining 13 months 3 days on the MGIB. I have not used any of the remaining months left. How can I change back to use the 13 months on Montgomery GI Bill? So I can use the 36 months of the Post 9/11? Is there a way? Thanks slowly getting frustrated!

A: You are a victim of partial information. The “guy” that told you that you could have 48 months total was not entirely wrong. Under the Rule of 48, if you qualify for two or more GI Bills, the maximum combined number of months of benefit you can have is 48. But you don’t automatically get that number – the part he forgot to tell you.

The only way is to first use up all 36 months of your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits, then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and get your additional 12 months. Evidently he didn’t go into the explanation of how to get 48 months.

You don’t get both 36 months of the MGIB and 36 months of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The only way you can get 36 months of the Post 9/11 GI Bill is if that is the only GI Bill you have.

The reason why your COE showed you have 13 months and 3 days of Post 9/11 GI Bill is because that is the amount of unused benefits you had left under your MGIB.

The VA Form 22-1990 is very explicit in explaining that once you switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you can’t switch back. As a matter of fact, the exact wording Block 9F is “My election is irrevocable and may not be changed.”

As a final note, your deployments with the Guard does not make you eligible for 36 months of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it makes you eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, big difference – you either get the same number of unused remaining months you have left under the MGIB or the 12 additional months, if you had first exhausted your MGIB.

Don’t feel bad; I run into servicemembers every day that didn’t get the “full story” when “the guy” was explaining what benefits they were authorized.

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