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Is There Any Way We Can Fight to Get Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits for the 2012-2013 School Year?

Q: This is a bit of long scenario. My husband who is in the Army Reserves had tried to transfer his benefits to me in Sept. of 2012. At that time they declined because he did not have 4 years left on his contract. He had the intention of continuing on as he already had 15 years of military service. When he spoke with the education specialist, he was told he had to wait until he had a year left on that contract (he had a little under 2 years left at the time), then reenlist in June of 2013 with an extension. He was told that he could back date up to a year for the benefits. Of course once that was all done, the date on the TEB was Aug. 26, 2013. I had already been going to school fall 2012, spring 2013, and this fall. As I read more and more, it sounds like we cannot change the date for the transfer of benefits. After hours of looking at different websites, I found DA form 4836 (the Oath of Extension). Is there any way we can fight to get benefits for the 2012-2013 school year? I am so discouraged that it would’ve been an easy fix last year when we started the process. Thank you for your time.

A: The root of the problem was your husband waited too long until he tried to transfer his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to you. If he would have started the process when he had four or more years left on his enlistment, this whole mess could have been avoided. But to answer your question, no you most likely would not be able to get your fall 2012 and spring 2013 semesters paid for. Why?

Because it would be like trying to drive a car home before you bought it. Being your transfer was not approved until August 26th, you did not have any Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits to use before that date. The VA can’t by law pay you for something you did not have at that time, which when you were going to school you did not have approved transfer benefits yet.

And they can’t back date the transfer, because your husband did not meet all of the service requirements at the time you were going to school:
• currently serving
• having served for at least 6 years
• having at least four years left on the enlistment at the time of the transfer request.

What your education specialist told you about back-dating up to a year back for the benefits is true, providing you had the benefits for the period of time you were trying to collect on – but you didn’t as your transfer had not yet been approved.

So basically, now you can try and collect reimbursement on your fall 2013 semester, as you had entitlement to use for that semester. As far as the other two semesters, you just have to move on and now use your transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill entitlement and chalk up the past to experience.

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