House Lawmakers to Vote on Bill to Reduce GI Bill Transfer Benefits


Legislation that would cut by half the Post-9/11 GI Bill housing allowance payments transferrable to children of troops is set for a vote Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The language, part of the Veterans Employment, Education and Healthcare Act, only cuts the payment for children of service members using the transferred funding -- not spouses. The congressionally mandated Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission last year recommended eliminating the entire housing payout for both groups.

It's unclear whether children of service members who have received the benefit but haven't yet started using it will be allowed to keep the payment. A similar version of the bill is expected to move through the Senate, though both chambers must vote on and pass the legislation before it can be signed into law by President Barack Obama. 

The bill would also increase to 10 years with an additional two-year service obligation the amount of time troops must spend on active duty before being eligible to transfer the benefit. As it stands now, troops must serve six years, plus an additional four to qualify for the transfer. That recommendation was included in the commission's report.

The bill, however, also includes some benefit bumps not suggested by the panel, including two expansions to the Fry Scholarship.

The program allows the children and spouses of service members killed in action after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to use the GI Bill. The first change extends the eligibility timeline for spouses of troops who died before 2006. The second allows eligible spouses to access the Yellow Ribbon program, which helps GI Bill users to attend private schools that exceed the benefit's tuition cap.

The legislation also includes a provision that would allow injured Guard and Reserve members to earn their GI Bill benefits faster.

Guard and Reservists must serve three years on active duty to qualify for the post-9/11 GI Bill. Currently, members of those services injured while on active duty are placed in a “medical hold” while they recover, instead of continuing to log active duty time. The measure would allow that time in recovery to count towards their three years of required service.

Officials with the Military Officers Association of America, an advocacy group based in Alexandria, Virginia, said the proposed cut to GI Bill transfer payments is offset by the other proposals to expand benefits.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @amybushatz

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