GI Bill Warning: Act Soon to Lock Down Family Transfer Rights

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Army families may need to act quickly to guarantee availability to one of the biggest family benefits: the ability of a soldier to share earned Post-9/11 GI bill benefits with a spouse or children.

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s recent report on the 2016 defense budget contains a warning that transfer rights, now widely available to anyone who serves 10 years of active duty, might be limited in the future to those in critical or undermanned skills. DoD and the services have had the ability to restrict transfer rights eligibility since the Post-9/11 GI Bill took effect on Aug. 1, 2009, but allowed anyone who meets the service requirements to enroll their families.

The Senate committee report does not directly order the services to limit transfer rights. It says the service secretaries “should exercise the authority to be more selective in permitting the transferability of unused education benefits to family members in a manner that encourages the retention of individuals in the armed forces,” which would make the education benefit similar to re-enlistment and retention bonuses.

If you are one of the many service members who have not yet applied for approval to transfer this benefit to your spouse or child, you might want to act quickly. Once approved, the GI Bill transfer to family members can be modified or revoked at any time. In other words, if your educational needs or that of your family members change in the future, you are not bound by the transferability decisions you made at the time of enrollment.

With such an easy transfer process after approval, there is no reason not to get approved for the transfer if you are considering it.

“The writing seems to be on the wall,” said Patty Barron, AUSA’s Director of Family Readiness. “Don’t wait to enroll for your family Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit. Waiting could cost you thousands of dollars that can never be recouped.”

For more information on how to currently transfer your post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to your spouse or children, vist http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/post911_transfer.asp