Paycheck Chronicles

Transferring The GI Bill To A Spouse

Thinking about transferring your Post 9/11 GI Bill to your spouse? Transferrability of benefits is one of the most amazing things about the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  If you are a long-time Paycheck Chronicles reader, you know that I believe that Congress will act to diminish the value of the Post 9/11 GI Bill over time.  This means that I think everyone who has Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility should thinking strategically about how and when it gets used.

For many military families, the biggest value comes in using the Post 9/11 GI Bill to assist the non-serving spouse in attaining educational credentials that will open up certain jobs and careers.  Spouses using GI Bill benefits do not receive the housing portion of the benefit, but in many situations that is a small trade-off for the opportunity to finish education before the spouse leaves active duty.

Here are the key things to know about transferrability of the Post 9/11 GI Bill to spouses:

  • The spouse must be enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS) and be eligible for benefits at the time of transfer to receive transferred benefits.
  • The option to transfer is open to any member of the armed forces active duty or Selected Reserve, officer or enlisted who is eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and meets the following criteria:
    • Has at least six years of service in the armed forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of approval and agrees to serve four additional years in the armed forces from the date of election.
    • Has at least 10 years of service in the armed forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of approval, is precluded by either standard policy (by Service Branch or DoD) or statute from committing to four additional years, and agrees to serve for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute.
When being used by a recipient spouse, the following rules apply:
  • Spouses may start to use the benefit immediately.
  • Spouses may use the benefit while the member remains in the Armed Forces or after separation from active duty.
  • Spouses are not eligible for the monthly housing allowance while the member is serving on active duty.
  • Spouses may use the benefit for up to 15 years after the service member's last separation from active duty.
  • A subsequent divorce will not affect the transferees eligibility to receive educational benefits; however, after an individual has designated a spouse as a transferee under this section, the eligible individual retains the right to revoke or modify the transfer at any time.
There is a lot of mis-information regarding transferrability of benefits.  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) website has very clear instructions and information about this topic.

Have questions about how to transfer your GI Bill to your spouse?  See Post 9/11 GI Bill Transfer of Education Benefits.

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