Two of the biggest benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill are:
- The ability to transfer education entitlement from the service member to either a spouse or dependent children – or both.
- The ability to revoke and reallocate transferred benefits after retiring.
The latest data available up through 2014 shows that more than 420,000 service members have made a transfer of benefits.
Current Rules regarding benefit transfer
Under today’s rules, a serving military member can initiate a transfer request after six years of service, if s/he agrees to serve an additional four years. If precluded from extending an enlistment by policy, the transfer can be made without extending an enlistment if the serving member has completed at least 10 years of service.
After meeting the initial eligibility rules, a transfer request can be made anytime from that point on until within about one year to six months of retiring. The stipulation is the transfer request must have been initiated far enough in advance to have it approved before the service member’s retirement date.
Proposed Change to gi bill transfer benefits
Under the proposal, as reported to the Senate Armed Services Committee by the acting deputy to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Anthony Kurta, the change would limit servicemembers to making a transfer request from their initial eligibility period up to their 16th year of service, thus preventing a transfer of benefits from their 16th year and beyond.
One implication of the change
One stipulation of the Post 9/11 GI Bill is the transfer of benefits must occur while the military member, known as the sponsor, is still serving. Good advice is for the sponsor to transfer at least a month of education benefits to the spouse and each eligible family member while still serving.
The sponsor then has the ability after retiring to revoke and reallocate benefits as the situation dictates, because all family members had initially received a transfer of benefits while the sponsor was still serving.
Under this proposed change, children born to, or legally adopted by, a servicemember between 16 years of service up to retiring would be precluded from receiving an initial transfer of benefits and therefore could not receive a reallocation of benefits after the sponsor retires.
The rationale behind the change is that it would allow the transfer option to better work as a “retention incentive.” What is not yet apparent is how this change would allow the incentive to work better. Since its inception, the transfer of benefits option of Post 9/11 GI Bill has always been a retirement incentive and not an entitlement.
If the proposed change is approved, it would take effect one year from approval. Therefore, it would behoove current eligible military members with at least six years of service, but less than 16, to make a transfer of benefits to eligible family members now before it is too late. Currently, many military members wait until closer to retirement to make the transfer.