Transferring GI Bill Benefits
How Your Family Can Use Them if You Can’t
September 29, 2015 by Mark Dye
Millions of military members have been able to further their educations thanks to the GI Bill, which provides money for post-high school education. The Post 9/11 GI Bill greatly expanded the benefits to include housing assistance and a stipend for books. Sometimes, however, those who serve aren’t able to use their benefits—thankfully, there are ways they can transfer some or all of them to a family member.
Which family members are eligible?
It can either be spouses or children, and they have be enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS) and be eligible for benefits. There are, however, differing conditions as to when they can be used after they are transferred:
- Can use the benefit immediately after transfer
- May use the benefit while their spouse is in or out of the military
- Can use these benefits up to 15 years after the service member leaves the military
- Are not eligible for the monthly housing allowance in the GI Bill while their spouse is on active duty
- Can start using the benefit after their military parent has completed at least 10 years of service in the armed forces
- May use the benefit while their parent is in or out of the military
- Is entitled to the monthly housing allowance stipend even when the parent is still on active duty
- May not use the benefit until graduation from high school (or equivalency certificate), or age 18
- May not use the benefit after reaching 26 years old
Also note that spouse can be divorced, or the child married—the same eligibility rules apply.
What must the military member do?
To be eligible to transfer benefits, the military member must meet the following conditions:
- Be a member of the active-duty armed forces or Selected Reserve (officer or enlisted) and generally eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. You must also meet one of the following three requirements
- Have at least six years of service in the armed forces on the date the transfer is approved, and agrees to serve another four years in the armed forces from the date of election
- Have 10 years of service but prevented by branch policy or statute to committing for another four years, but agrees to serve the maximum time allotted by such policy or statute
- Is retirement-eligible (20 years of service) but agrees to serve an additional four years
- The military member must also submit for the transfer while still on active duty
What forms must be filed?
As expected, there are several actions to take and forms to complete. The first thing to do is to go the MilConnect website and select “Transfer Education Benefits” in the right-hand menu (under the “sign up now” button).
Once the transfer is approved, the eligible family members must fill out VA Form 22-1990e—which can be printed and mailed (PDF) to your regional VA office, or filled out online. Keep in mind that these forms can only be filled out after the transfer is approved; do not do so before it is given the green light, and don’t use these forms to actually request the transfer.
As you can see, transferring GI Bill benefits isn’t all that complicated. It can also make sure that the benefits you have earned don’t go to waste.
For complete information about the GI Bill, you can call 1-888-GIBILL-1, or go online to www.Benefits.va.gov/gibill.