Help! They Never Told Me the GI Bill Transfer Rules

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A woman shelves books.
Marsha Adkins, 5th Forces Support Squadron library aide, shelves books at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. (U.S. Air Force photo/J.T. Armstrong)

When the time came to re-up my service in the Reserves, my wife and I thought about it long and hard.

Renewing meant I could transfer my GI Bill benefits to my daughter but it also meant another possible deployment to a war zone, and we weren't sure this was in the best interest of our family.

After great thought and prayer, we determined that being able to transfer the GI Bill benefits to my daughter was worth it, so I renewed and signed up again.

My wife was with me the day of my service renewal. We talked about the benefit; I was never told or had it explained to me that I needed to declare I wanted to transfer my benefits in the DEERS system at that time. In all the times of going to update information and dependent cards, I was never advised or talked to about this. After my retirement, I received a reservist magazine that said to make sure this was declared before retirement.

HELP! I am now retired! I thought this was an automatic plan. I planned for my daughter to be able to go to college with this money. I served because of it. I have no desire to split this benefit, I want to transfer 100 percent to my daughter.

Can you help me? I have written a few inquiries to my local congressman's office, but after further research I wonder if this is the better starting place. How can I appeal and seek assistance? I have read and researched online successes, but most have come with congressional involvement. Surely there must be a different way.

Is there a source of local assistance, an appeal or other forums? My daughter graduates from high school in June of this year, so this matter is becoming urgent. Please help us! 

Congratulations on your retirement and years of faithful service. We're truly sorry to hear about your confusion and lack of information over the GI Bill transfer process. You're not the first person to write us with this kind of question.

For help with this one, I reached out to the GI Bill transfer experts at the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA).

According to them, other than the congressional action you mentioned, there is one other step you can take -- but it's truly a long shot. You can apply for the transfer now through your retiree "chain of command," get turned down, and then apply to the Navy Board for the Correction of Military Records, the MOAA experts said.

To make that to work, however, you would need to have evidence in your records that you attempted to or actually applied to transfer the benefit while still in service.

In all likelihood, your Reserve administration staff did not understand how the benefit transfer process works and the system failed you. For that, we are sorry. We wish you the very best of luck sorting this out.

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Benefits Family and Spouse