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With Six Years of Service in January and an Extension in Place, Can I Transfer My Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits Now?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: This January I will hit my 6-year mark and in order to accept my orders to AK. I reenlisted for an additional 6 years. I want to transfer my benefits to the Mrs.; will she have to wait for approval and if so approximately how long does this approval process take? I read on the VA website that as a spouse they’re eligible to utilize the benefits immediately, if this is true what constitutes immediately? Also, I am a bit confused about her/my eligibility of using the yellow ribbon program. Since I am and will continue to be AD, this disqualifies her/me correct? Also, in order to TEB I have to switch from Chapter 30 to Chapter 33. If I do so, would she/I qualify for the additional 12 months? I paid into the whole Chapter 30 and have not used it, or Top-Up at all. Will I receive the $1,200 I paid into back? I am still currently enrolled in Chapter 30 and have not switched yet until I have decided firmly on what the best course of action would be. Please advise. Great forum/site/responses. Keep up the good work and I look forward to hearing from you.

A: First of all before you are eligible for the transfer of benefits option, you have to have served for at least six years – something you would not have attained until January 2014. After your service anniversary date in January, you can start the TEB process. You already meet the other two requirements of currently serving and agreeing to serve an additional four years.

Once your transfer Status Block reads “Transfer Approved”, then your wife has to go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-1990e to get her Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Once she has her COE, then she can enroll in school.

You are correct in your assessment of the Yellow Ribbon Program.

As far as qualifying for the additional 12 months, no she would not. You only have up to 36 months of benefits that you could transfer to her. To get the additional 12 months of benefits, you would have to first use up all 36 months of your Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and then switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with months of benefits left, then all you would get is that same number of months and not the additional 12 months.

To get your $1,200 MGIB contribution back, you have to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill with all 36 months of benefits of your MGIB intact and use them up yourself. You would get your $1,200 as part of your last housing allowance. If you switch and then transfer your benefits to your wife, you would not get your contribution back.

Your best course of action is deciding what you want out of your GI Bill benefits:
• If you want to transfer benefits to your wife, then you have to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill as the MGIB does not have a transfer option to it.
• If you plan on using your benefits, then it is a matter of the level of degree you want. If a four-year bachelor’s degree is as high as you plan to go, then most people benefit by switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill right away.
• However, if you plan on working toward an advanced degree, then you may be better off using up your MGIB and then switching to the Post 9/11 GI Bill to get the additional 12 months.

Weigh your options and make a decision.

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