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Why Is the VA Only Giving Me 3 Months of Post 9/11 GI Bill Entitlements?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband is active-duty (0-5) and eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill. He successfully transferred 36 months of those Chap 33 benefits to me. I happen to be a veteran from 1976-80 and used 45 of my 48 months under the Old GI Bill. I was accepted to an on-line master’s program offered by Loyola University. Much to our dismay, my VA certificate of eligibility claims that I am only entitled to 3 months of my husband’s transferred benefit because of my status as a pre-9/11 vet who already used her own assigned benefit. Does this sound like a correct application of eligibility rules?

VA education counselors admitted that my situation was the first they had heard in which full benefits were denied because of this interpretation. I’m trying to keep my cool, infuriated with this thoughtless restriction, having suffered through my husband’s six GWOT deployments while raising our two toddlers. I was precisely the spouse they were thinking of when the transferability issue was debated… a reward of sorts for supporting my husband. What are your thoughts, and what would you do next in my situation? If this restriction affects so few spouses, is it possible to apply for a waiver? Thank you for your attention.

A: Unfortunately, it does sound correct. Under the VA’s Rule of 48, if a person qualifies for two or more GI Bills, the maximum combined entitlement is capped at 48 months. While your situation is somewhat unique (you previously having your own GI Bill and Post 9/11 GI Bill transferred benefits from your husband), I can see how they are applying the Rule to your situation.

A waiver is always possible, but looking at the Rule, I doubt if the VA would change their stance on their interpretation, but it never hurts to try. All you would be out is some time and maybe it would force them to take another look at your situation. Sorry I could not be of more help.

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