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Why Don’t I Get an Opportunity to Transfer Benefits to My Wife?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I started my military service after 9/11 and was medically retired in June of 2008. From what I understand I am eligible for the new Post 9/11 GI Bill. I would like to transfer my benefits to my wife, but because this change did not take effect until 2009, I did not have the opportunity to transfer the benefits to her while I was enlisted. Is she still eligible for the transfer?

A: It sounds like you are eligible for 100% of the benefits of the Post 9/11 GI Bill EXCEPT the transfer option. To access that option, you needed to serve at least six years on active duty after September 10, 2001 (which you did) and sign up for an additional four years on or after August 1, 2009 (which you didn’t). By that date, you were already out for over one year.

Unfortunately, you along with thousands of former servicemembers were caught in the web of Congress. When they wrote the rules, the servicemember had to still be on active duty on or after the August 1st date to make a transfer leaving thousands without the opportunity to transfer benefits. While there is bill before Congress that would correct this oversight, it only applies to 20-year-plus veterans retiring before August 1, 2009 and back to December 9, 2001, which isn’t going to help you.

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