Transfer Your Post-9/11 GI Bill® Benefits Before It’s Too Late
Changes are coming next month to the transferability section of the Post-9/11 GI Bill®. On July 12, 2019 eligibility to transfer benefits will be limited to service members with at least six years but not more than 16 years of active duty or selected reserve service.
Why the Change?
The Defense Department announced its intention to put the 16-year cap in place in 2018 in order to more closely align the transferability benefit with its purpose as a recruiting and retention incentive, according to department officials. The updates are meant to address Congress’s original intent and ensure availability of benefits for future service members.
Who is Affected?
Roughly nine percent of active-duty service members, National Guardsmen and reservists will be impacted by the change.
The former policy had no cap on time-in-service for transferability, provided service members committed to four more years in the service. The new rule also ends the eligibility of some service members to transfer their benefits, including those who could not commit to the additional service requirement because of mandatory retirement, high-year tenure or medical issues.
Critics contend the measure will unfairly impact military morale. A bipartisan group of 83 House lawmakers expressed concern in a letter to then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, stating, “Once a service member meets the requirements for transferring Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits to an eligible family member, we must uphold our end of the commitment.” Nevertheless, the cutoff date of July 12, 2019 for transferring benefits remains.
According to Military Times, veterans groups, including the American Legion, are unhappy about the changes, believing them to be bad for recruitment, morale, and military families.
In September 2018, then-Secretary Mattis announced that none of the changes would apply to wounded warriors. Additionally, active-duty troops who have earned a Purple Heart for wounds in combat may transfer benefits to their family members whenever they want.
What It Means For You
If you are thinking about transferring benefits, do not delay.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than $20 billion in education benefits has been distributed to more than 773,000 veterans, troops and family members since the Post-9/11 GI Bill® was implemented in 2009.
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.
By Chris Newsome