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Shouldn’t I Be Able to Claim GI Bill Benefits for Two Years Worth of College From 1999?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My dad was informed May 2008 that he was deemed 100% disabled and the VA dated the start date of this back to 1999. At the time if I look back to 1999, I was 25 years of age. In my mind I should be able to submit a claim for the 2 years of school I completed using the date the VA deemed my father as 100%, notified in 2008, but backdated to 1999? He or I had no idea he was 100% till 2008, so I was not able to apply upfront for the benefits, but we feel that the VA should honor my claim based on the back-date of his disability to 1999? Can you please help? I just submitted the application and my father’s paperwork yesterday to the VA office in St Louis, MO… Thank you.

A: There are a couple of things at play here. First, back in 1999, your dad would have had the Montgomery GI Bill. Unfortunately, that GI Bill did not have a transfer-to-dependent option, so he would not have been able to transfer GI Bill benefits to you to go to school.

Second, you did not say if your dad’s 100% disability was service-connected or not. If it was, you may have qualified at the time for up to 45 months of educational benefits under Chapter 35 – the Survivors’ and Dependents Education Assistance Program (DEA). If not service-connected, then you would not have qualified.

However, even if you did qualify for Chapter 35 entitlement, there is a statute of limitations as far as how far back the VA will pay benefits. Generally speaking, you can only claim back one year, meaning you could only go back to 2007. Also, if you could go back further, you can only use Chapter 35 benefits up to age 26, so if you were 25 at the time, you would only have been able to use one year of benefits.

You can pursue a claim to the VA if you want, but based on the information I provided in this blog post, I don’t see much chance of success. But good luck!

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