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Why Did My Daughter’s Percentage Change?

Q: After applying for Post 9/11 GI Bill educational benefits, my daughter, who is in the AF Reserve, received a letter from the VA stating that she had been awarded benefits at the 60% level. On that basis, she enrolled in school and signed an apartment lease. Several months later, after the school and the VA got done processing her claim, the VA has now paid her at only the 50% level. A VA claim officer said they recently issued a Letter of Eligibility, which we have yet to receive, citing the 50% level. She intends to file a Notice of Disagreement, based on their initial letter. In your experience, what do you think the odds are of success in her favor?–She doesn’t understand how they count active duty days for Reservists, and was relying on them to do it correctly the first time. Unfortunately, the difference in benefits makes it very difficult for her to devote her full time to school without getting some part-time income.

A: The difference between the 60 and 50% level of the Post 9/11 GI Bill can come down to one day, so I can see how that would happen. The way the rules read is “at least 6 months, but less than 12 months” for the 50% level and “at least 12 months but less than 18 months” for the 60% level, so if she is right on the break of 12 months, I can see how their initial calculation may have been wrong.

She can file a Notice of Disagreement and it may force the VA to relook at their calculations, but I would not put a lot of hope in getting bumped up to the 60% level again.

For Reservists, it comes down to how many days she was on Title 10 orders for a contingency operation (such as Iraq or Afghanistan). No other types of orders count, so she should be able to go back through her orders and/or DD-214 and do a calculation to see how many days she comes up with. The VA uses 30-day months as their standard for calculations.

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