Sign up for the Spouse & Family Newsletter

Popular Spouse Benefits Articles

Military Life 101

  • job fair
    Military Spouse Employment 101
    While the military will always throw a monkey wrench in any best-laid plans, your career doesn't have to be one of them.
  • (Photo: U.S. Department of Education)
    Military Spouse Education Help 101
    Good news for you: Being a military spouse can actually make some parts of going back to school easier.
  • (Photo: U.S. Navy)
    Military Life 101
    Military life has a lot of nuts and bolts. You know, the little things that make up just an ordinary day.
  • stack of one dollar bills
    Military Spouse and Family Benefits 101
    Don't know exactly how to get your military spouse and family benefits or want to know more about what they are? Read on.
  • Movers at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, load up a truck with household goods. Jose Ramirez/Air Force
    Military Spouse and Family Moves 101
    Whether you're an old pro or new to the military moving game, there's stuff to learn about PCSing. Here's our easy PCS 101 guide.
  • (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Sullivan Laramie)
    Military Family Deployment 101
    Preparing for deployment can seem like an uphill battle. But we've been there. Here's what you need to know.
  • Military family
    Military Family Life 101
    Military life is not easy, but we've got your back. From marriage to kids and parenting, we have the resources you need.

Can I Transfer My GI Bill Benefits After I Retire?

GI Bill transferability rules

Dear Q&B,

I have been retired for eight years, and I am pretty darn sure that I am not ever going to use my GI Bill benefits. How can I transfer that to my children? Also, does it have to go to just one or can I split it among more than one of my kids?

Wasting Away

Dear Wasting,

We've got some bad news and, well, some more bad news for you.

The first bad news is that you can transfer your post-9/11 GI Bill only while you're on active duty, and then only if you meet the minimum service requirements and are willing to serve an additional service obligation.

The good news, if you want to stretch for it, is that you didn't actually miss the boat on transferring it while you were in. The option didn't become available until 2009, after you were already retired. So there really isn't much you could have done.

That's a pretty big bummer. But you may not be entirely without hope. Depending on what state you are in, your family could be eligible for other education benefits. You can see's state benefits guide here.

So who is eligible for the GI Bill and how do they transfer it?

As a general rule, active-duty service members who have served for at least six years can transfer their benefits to a spouse or child if they agree to serve an additional four years. They can also choose to split the benefit between multiple children. (There's no need to play favorites!)

Spouses have 15 years from the time the service member leaves active duty to use the benefit. While children don't necessarily have a time limit, they do have to use it before they are 25 years old. If the spouse uses it while the service member is on active duty, he or she won't receive the housing allowance portion. If a child uses it, he or she will receive the housing allowance, regardless of whether the service member is still on active duty.

You can read all there is to know about transferring the GI Bill over here at's fact page.

But, a word of caution: GI Bill transferability has always been at the discretion of the Defense Department, meaning it could take away the benefit at any moment. That's why we strongly suggest that anyone who is eligible to transfer it should do so now, even if you aren't sure that you want to give it away. If the DoD yanks that part of the benefit, it is unlikely to take it away from those who have already transferred it, and you can always take it back to use yourself without penalty.

Wish we had better news.

Team Q&B

-- Do you have a question about your benefits? Email the Questions and Benefits team at

Related Topics

Questions and Benefits Family and Spouse Military Benefits Featured

Military News App by

Download the new News App for Android on Google Play or for Apple devices on iTunes!

Featured VA Loan Articles